Former correctional sergeant sentenced to prison for assaulting inmates

"Corrections officers are expected to safeguard the civil rights of prisoners. These officers ignored their duties and must be held to account for their actions.”

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After pleading guilty to assaulting two handcuffed inmates, a former Alabama correctional sergeant was recently sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.

On February 16, 2019, Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) Sergeant Ulysses Oliver Jr. escorted a handcuffed inmate into a hallway at ADOC’s Elmore Correctional Facility before punching, kicking, and beating the first victim approximately 19 times with a collapsible metal baton. After Sgt. Oliver returned to the observation room, Lieutenant Willie Burks III watched Oliver grab a second handcuffed inmate and pull him into the hallway before kicking the second victim and striking him approximately 10 times with the baton.

During the assaults, the victims were handcuffed and were not resisting or posing a threat.

Oliver later shoved the tip of his baton into the face of one of the inmates and lacerated him. When Oliver turned himself in for using excessive force, Lt. Burks instructed Oliver to falsely write in his report that Burks had ordered him to stop the attack.

On April 2, 2019, Oliver pleaded guilty in federal court to assaulting two handcuffed inmates. Former Corrections Officers Bryanna Mosley and Leon Williams, who were also present during the assault, pleaded guilty in May and July 2019, respectively, to failing to intervene to stop the assaults.

On July 21, 2021, a federal jury convicted Burks of failing to intervene to stop Oliver from assaulting the second inmate. In February 2022, Burks was sentenced to nine years in federal prison followed by two years of supervised release.

On Friday, Oliver was sentenced in federal court to 30 months of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release.

“The Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment, which includes malicious uses of force by correctional officers,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division said in a recent press release. “The Department of Justice will hold to account officers who brutalize incarcerated persons.”

“The actions of Mr. Oliver and his co-defendants run completely counter to the responsibilities and trust given to correctional officers,” stated U.S. Attorney Sandra Stewart for the Middle District of Alabama. “Oliver knew that the use of force in this case was unnecessary and excessive, and so did the other officers involved. While I fully support the difficult and dangerous jobs that these officers undertake each day, my office remains committed to holding those that ignore their oaths accountable.”

“Corrections officers are expected to safeguard the civil rights of prisoners,” noted Special Agent in Charge Paul Brown for the FBI’s Mobile Field Office. “These officers ignored their duties and must be held to account for their actions.”

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