The family of Darrell Smith is suing the state after he was beaten to a near comatose state by a group of correctional officers at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel. The center is New Jersey’s civil commitment center, where people are held indefinitely after completing their sentence.

The beating was described as “gang-style” and even after he was left in a catatonic state, officers at the facility waited five days before taking him to the hospital, where he died two days later.

Mr. Smith completed his sentence in 2016, but has been involuntarily confined at the NJ Civil Commitment Center under a controversial law that allows the state to hold a person indefinitely even after the completion of their sentence. Currently 20 states (District of Columbia, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin) have such laws.

If Smith wasn’t in New Jersey or if the government abolished this cruel form of punishment, he would be alive today.

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