The U.S. Department of Justice announced on November 2 that it has opened two separate civil investigations into the conditions in the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in North Charleston and the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia.

Allen Chaney, Legal Director of the ACLU of South Carolina, gave the following statement:

I am encouraged that the United States Department of Justice will be investing its authority and resources into improving the horrific conditions at South Carolina's Alvin S. Glenn and Sheriff Al Cannon detention centers. I hope that the investigation is thorough, but speedy, and that the ultimate relief is sufficient to create long term change.

Officials in Charleston and Columbia need to evaluate how they got here. Many of the civil rights violations being investigated by DOJ flow directly from overcrowding and understaffing, yet counties continue to use their jails as a catchall solution for drug addiction, poverty, and — as we're seeing now in Columbia — for homelessness. Hopefully the weight of a federal civil rights investigation will make lawmakers evaluate whether their resources might be better invested in programs that reduce drug addiction and homelessness rather than resorting to the harmful, ineffective, and inhumane system of arrest-and-release.