Fmr. AL corrections officer pleads guilty to obstruction of just - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Fmr. AL corrections officer pleads guilty to obstruction of justice in inmate beating death case

The Justice Department announced Monday that Joseph Sanders, 32, a former corrections officer of the Alabama Department of Corrections, pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in an investigation into the beating death of former inmate Rocrast Mack.   

On August 4, 2010, 24-year-old Rocrast Mack was beaten by several corrections officers at Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton, Alabama.  He was repeatedly struck by a baton in an office in the prison, and several minutes later he was assaulted again in the medical unit of the prison when an officer stomped on Mack's head several times.  Mack died the following day in a Montgomery, Ala., hospital.  Following Mack's death, Sanders lied to investigators from the Department of Corrections to cover up the fact that Mack was unjustly and brutally beaten.   

Two weeks ago, on June 25, a federal jury convicted Michael Smith, a former lieutenant at Ventress, of civil rights and obstruction of justice violations regarding this incident.  Scottie Glenn, another former corrections officer at Ventress, pleaded guilty on Nov.18, 2011, to one count of violating the civil rights of Mack for his role in the incident and to one count of conspiring with other corrections officers to cover up the beatings.  Matthew Davidson, another former corrections officer, pleaded guilty on Jan. 15, 2013, to two civil rights violations and one count of conspiring with other officers to cover up the beatings.   

Sentencing for all of the defendants is scheduled for September 23, 2013.  Sanders faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. 

"Mr. Sanders, by his statements, attempted to conceal that Rocrast Mack's brutal death was unjustly caused by the corrections officers to whose care he had been entrusted," said Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Roy L. Austin Jr. "Such actions have no place in our corrections system and the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute those who commit and cover up such crimes." 

"Correction officers have an incredibly difficult job.  Most perform their job ethically, without abusing the inmates," said U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, George L. Beck, Jr.  "However, these officers allowed a restrained man to be savagely beaten and stomped and then tried to cover it up.  There is no excuse for such behavior.  Hopefully, this plea will bring the Mack family some peace in knowing that no one is above the law." 

"This investigation represents the FBI's unwavering commitment to protect all citizens from those who violate and abuse their positions of trust," stated Stephen F. Richardson, FBI Special Agent in Charge, Mobile Division.  "Public servants are bound by their oath to serve and protect our communities and any violation of a person's civil rights will be met with severe consequences." 

This case was investigated by the Mobile, Ala., Division of the FBI, in partnership with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, and was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Patricia Sumner of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerusha Adams of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Alabama.

INFORMATION SOURCE: U.S. Dept. of Justice Release

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