Former prison leader sentenced to prison after admitting to abusing inmate

Published 5:05 pm Tuesday, December 19, 2023

A former Alabama Department of Corrections worker was sentenced Tuesday to more than seven years in federal prison for abusing an inmate, federal prosecutors said.

Former ADOC lieutenant Mohammad Shahid Jenkins, 52, was sentenced to 87 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for using excessive force on an inmate and lying afterwards in an official report in an attempt to cover up his abuse. He previously pleaded guilty to these offenses on Sept.12.

“Lieutenants and Shift Commanders set the tone for less experienced officers whom they supervise,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Jenkins abused his position of power to commit an egregious assault on a restrained inmate, in an isolated location of the prison, over the course of five minutes. He is being held accountable for his actions, and the Justice Department will continue to hold accountable law enforcement officers who violate the civil rights of every American, including those who are incarcerated.”

“Corrections officers have the responsibility to ensure the safety and security of those incarcerated in our nation’s prisons,” said U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona for the Northern District of Alabama. “The physical abuse of prisoners in violation of the Constitution threatens the safety of the entire institution, officers and inmates alike. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute corrections officers who abuse inmates and violate positions of public trust.”

“This sentence sends a strong message that the FBI remains committed to protecting the civil rights of all people, including those in prison custody,” said Special Agent in Charge Carlton L. Peeples of the FBI Birmingham Field Office. “This individual’s conduct is not reflective of the honor and professionalism with which the men and women of law enforcement exemplify. The FBI Birmingham Division is proud to work alongside the Civil Rights Division and ADOC to bring justice to these victims and remain steadfast in addressing all Color of Law allegations.”

According to court documents and evidence introduced at sentencing, Jenkins, former William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility Lieutenant and Shift Commander, who had more than 20 years of experience in law enforcement, used excessive force on inmate V.R. Specifically, on Feb. 16, 2022, Jenkins willfully deprived inmate V.R. of his right to be free from excessive force by kicking him, hitting him, spraying him with chemical spray, striking him with a can of chemical spray and striking him with a shoe, while V.R. was restrained inside of a holding cell and not posing a threat.

Over the course of approximately five minutes and outside the presence of other officers and inmates, Jenkins repeatedly re-entered the holding cell that V.R. was in and re-assaulted him numerous times. Jenkins used a dangerous weapon — chemical spray and the can of chemical spray — on V.R., and his attacks on V.R. caused V.R. to suffer bodily injury. Following his assault on V.R., Jenkins authored a false incident report and later Jenkins lied to investigators by denying using any force on V.R.

As part of the plea agreement, Jenkins also admitted that he used unlawful force on another inmate on a separate occasion at Donaldson. Specifically, on Nov. 29, 2021, Jenkins willfully deprived inmate D.H. of his right to be free from excessive force by repeatedly spraying D.H. with chemical spray while D.H. was handcuffed behind his back and compliant, by hitting D.H. in the head with the can of chemical spray and by delivering an open-hand strike to D.H.’s head while he was suffering from the effects of chemical spray.

The FBI Birmingham Field Office investigated the case with the assistance of ADOC’s Law Enforcement Services Division.

Assistant U.S. Attorney George Martin for the Northern District of Alabama and Trial Attorney Anna Gotfryd of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section prosecuted the case.