Report: State Prison Violence On The Rise, Increasingly Brutal

Jul 3, 2014

Violence in Georgia’s prisons is on the rise and growing increasingly brutal, according to a new report released by the Southern Center for Human Rights earlier this week.

The report alleges prison officials have lost control of the facilities, and inmates have easy access to lethal weapons, cell phones and other contraband objects.

“It’s not possible to stop all violence in prison,” the report states. “But the frequency and severity of violent incidents that are now occurring in Georgia’s prisons do not happen in a well-run system. Indeed, the GDC has shown a pattern of apathy in the face of security breaches and a failure to respond to known, dangerous conditions."

Attorney Sarah Geraghty said the Southern Center receives calls and letters nearly every day about violence in Georgia’s prisons, some of them alleging what she said amounts to “torture.”

“We have reports of people being burned with scalding water, having bleach poured in their eyes,” Geraghty said. “In one incident someone’s fingers were cut off. So we’re very concerned about the increasing level of brutality.”

In its report, the Southern Center mentions Hays, Smith and Baldwin prisons as being particularly violent and in need of improved safety and security.

It falls on the heels of what the Southern Center says is the 33rd death of an inmate at the hands of another since 2010. Augusta State Medical Prison inmate Shannon Grier died after being stabbed in a fight on June 29, according to reports.

The Southern Center concludes its report by calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the state’s prisons. It’s the second call for DOJ intervention, following a letter from Georgia Democratic U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson last month.

The corrections department did not comment on the Southern Center’s report.