A coalition of 14 human rights groups on Thursday called for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into Florida state prisons, contending that “immediate intervention” is necessary to stop the widespread abuse, neglect, torture and deaths of inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections.

In a letter to Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, the group cited a list of suspected criminal and civil rights violations against prisoners, including: torture and death by starvation, excessive use of force, medical neglect, misuse of solitary confinement, suicide, sexual assault and death and torture by scalding.

As examples, the letter cites 17 inmates who allegedly died under one or more of those conditions, as well as three others who continue to suffer as a result of violence and neglect suffered in the state prison system.

“Given the Florida Department of Corrections’ pattern and practice of consistently failing to remedy these pervasive and egregious problems, only the Department of Justice can properly address these violations,” the coalition wrote.

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