Skip to main content
Hallway and Prison Cells
Press Statement January 29, 2024

NAACP Urges DOJ to Investigate Broward County Sheriff’s Office Following 21 In-Custody Deaths

Hallway and Prison Cells


January 29, 2024

Contact: Alicia Mercedes,

WASHINGTON – Today, the NAACP sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice demanding an immediate investigation into the Broward County Sheriff's Office's training of its personnel and oversight of its management at the Broward County Jails after 21 persons have died while in their custody since 2021.

Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO shared the following statement:

"The NAACP is horrified by the continued injustice that Broward County families have been forced to endure. Make no mistake, every jurisdiction is responsible for the safety and well-being of any detained persons in their custody. The Broward County Sheriff's Department has failed its community. Now, it's time for our Justice Department to intervene, and ensure that this tragic pattern of negligence is addressed, and any bad actors are held accountable. The NAACP is unrelenting in our work to ensure that justice prevails, and every person is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve."

The facilities involved in the death of these detainees are pre-trial detention facilities which hold persons who have not been convicted of the crimes they've been charged with committing. Deaths have included multiple suicides in addition to reports of detainees being physically abused by deputies.

"The alarming number of deaths and distressing incidents within Broward County Jails demands swift action," said Marsha Ellison, President of the Broward County Branch of the NAACP. "We call upon the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into the Sheriff's Office's training and oversight, ensuring accountability for the lives lost and the well-being of those still in custody. NAACP Broward County remains resolute in our commitment to protecting our community and standing up to injustice." 

In addition to the reported deaths, there has been an incident of self-mutilation and, on two occasions, female detainees gave birth while alone in their cells despite repeated and prolonged cries for help. 

Below are excerpts from the letter sent to Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice:

  • "Considering the alarming rate of deaths in Broward County Jails, the NAACP asks the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into the Broward County Jails' conditions and management, especially its psychiatric treatment practices."
  • "Conditions in Broward Sheriff's Office jails remain dangerous for many incarcerated individuals."
  • "The county is responsible for intentionally neglecting and depriving people in its custody of necessary medical treatment."
  • "We call on the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into the conditions and practices in jails under BSO's (Broward's Sheriff's Office) purview."

Access the full letter here.



The NAACP advocates, agitates, and litigates for the civil rights due to Black America. Our legacy is built on the foundation of grassroots activism by the biggest civil rights pioneers of the 20th century and is sustained by 21st century activists. From classrooms and courtrooms to city halls and Congress, our network of members across the country works to secure the social and political power that will end race-based discrimination. That work is rooted in racial equity, civic engagement, and supportive policies and institutions for all marginalized people. We are committed to a world without racism where Black people enjoy equitable opportunities in thriving communities.

NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund – also referred to as the NAACP-LDF - was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but now operates as a completely separate entity.