The U.S. Justice Department filed a motion Thursday seeking to take full control of a troubled prison in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The department said in a statement that it had been trying to get the islands' Bureau of Corrections to improve the Golden Grove jail on St. Croix for 25 years.
"We cannot continue to allow prisoners to live in unsafe, filthy and hazardous conditions without constitutionally required medical and mental health care," said Ronald Sharpe, the islands' U.S. attorney.
The Justice Department said it is the first time that its civil rights division has requested receivership of a prison.
An official who answered the phone at the Golden Grove prison referred all questions to Bureau of Corrections director Julius Wilson, who could not be reached for comment.
Since July, there have been six stabbings at the prison, which holds roughly 600 inmates. The department's motion adds that "an alarming amount of contraband finds its way into Golden Grove."
The Justice Department said the Bureau of Corrections does not appropriately classify or separate violent prisoners, nor does it have enough staff that is properly trained.
"The deplorable conditions at Golden Grove continue to deteriorate after years of noncompliance with court orders," said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division. "While it is always our preference to work with agencies to make necessary changes, this agency has left us with no choice but to seek the drastic measure of receivership."