Nov. 9, 2005 — The U.S. Department of Justice has filed legal papers in U.S. District Court asking Judge Raymond Finch to find the Virgin Islands government in contempt of court for failing to improve prison conditions.
The papers, filed Tuesday, say the territory failed to improve safety and security measures at the Golden Grove Prison on St. Croix, according to a Justice Department press release.
In November 1986, the territorial government signed a consent decree requiring the prison to remedy conditions the federal government called unconstitutional. The conditions included operational and security procedures, medical and mental health care, fire safety and sanitation deficiencies.
"The Justice Department has made every effort to assist the Virgin Islands in meeting its obligation to remedy the deplorable current and ongoing violations at Golden Grove," Bradley J. Schlozman, an assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division, said in the press release.
The V.I. Justice Department, which has authority over the prisons, was not immediately able to comment because they were still reviewing the federal motion, said Judy Gomez, a department spokeswoman.
In February, a federal judge admonished the territorial government for failing to comply with a similar lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union some 11 years ago.
The ACLU filed the class action lawsuit in 1994 against the territory's government, alleging widespread civil rights abuses in prisons on St. Thomas and a lack of facilities on St. Croix.
The government has had to pay more than $700,000 in legal fees.
No fines have been imposed, however.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.