Statement from SCHR on former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill’s Convictions
For years, former Sheriff Victor Hill terrorized the people in his custody. The stories that have been shared with us from the courageous people in the Clayton County Jail are harrowing. One person we spoke with described how, 9 weeks after being put in the restraint chair, their arms remained sore and bruised. Multiple others told us of the terror and panic they experienced as they were strapped into the chair, often so tightly that they lost circulation. Hill’s recent convictions – 6 federal counts of violating the rights of incarcerated people in restraint chairs – signal an end to the impunity with which he operated for so many years, although convictions do not bring about justice or repair harm.
While we are cautiously optimistic that the culture of brazenly glorified violence at the Clayton County Jail will subside with Hill’s conviction, the people detained in the jail remain unsafe, regardless of who wears the Sheriff’s badge. They still live in a dangerously overcrowded facility with crumbling infrastructure, crawling with rodents and insects. The jail still offers no outdoor time or recreation or programming. People still face unacceptable violence every day. Victor Hill’s reign of terror may be ending, but the work to improve the material conditions inside the Clayton County Jail – and free as many people detained inside as possible – continues.
Our hope is that the new Sheriff of Clayton County will be dedicated to the well-being of the people in their care – as their constitutional obligation demands – and invested in making the jail a safer place for both the people detained there and the people who work there.