ATLANTA — State prison officials on Wednesday named an interim warden at a northwest Georgia prison where three inmates have died since mid-December.
Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens named Rick Jacobs to head Hays State Prison in Trion. Warden Clay Tatum is being reassigned within the department, spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan said.
Within six weeks in December and January, two Hays State inmates were killed in fights and a third was found dead in his cell. Another inmate was killed Tuesday, the same day he was transferred to another prison. Two corrections officers were attacked by inmates at the prison Jan. 27.
Jacobs said he’s evaluating the three main tools for managing inmates – staff, technology and infrastructure – to determine where the strengths and weaknesses are.
“Today is a new day at Hays State Prison, and we want to take a giant step in the right direction,” he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “We’re going to do everything in our power to do that.”
Prisons are an inherently violent environment, and Hays State, which is about 40 miles south of Chattanooga, Tenn., has a high percentage of inmates who are violent offenders and are serving long sentences, Jacobs said.
Pippa Lamont Hall-Jackson was stabbed to death Tuesday morning at the Georgia Diagnostic & Classification Prison in Jackson, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said. Jacobs said Hall-Jackson had been transferred from Hays State to the Jackson prison that day. Jacobs declined to comment further on the slaying, citing the ongoing investigation.
Nathaniel Reynolds, 31, was killed in a prison fight at Hays State on Jan. 18, and two other inmates have been charged in his death. Another inmate has also been charged in the death of Damien McClain, 27, who was killed during a fight in a prison cell on Dec. 26. Derrick Stubbs, 25, was found dead in his cell Dec. 19, and no one has been charged in his death.
The GBI is still investigating all three deaths.
Jacobs has nearly 30 years of experience in law enforcement.
He joined the Rome Police Department in 1984 and went on to become a Floyd County probation officer. He joined the state Department of Corrections as a probation officer in 1992. He has held a variety of management positions within the department, most recently as north area field operations manager.
At Hays State, Jacobs oversees about 350 employees and roughly 1,460 male inmates.