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Augusta State Medical Prison ranks high in assaults

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Augusta State Medical Prison ranks high among Georgia’s state prisons for the number of serious attacks on both inmates and corrections staff, according to an analysis of prison incident reports and state data from the Department of Corrections.

From Jan. 1, 2008, through Sept. 3, 2011, the medical prison ranked among the top five of the state’s 31 prisons for major incidents of inmate-to-staff attacks, according to the analysis by The Augusta Chronicle. It ranked among the top five prisons for major inmate-to-inmate attacks 2008 through 2010, but attacks seemed to be slowing in 2011.

In August, however, violence reached lethal levels when Antonio Wiley was stabbed to death with homemade shanks in a prison yard; seven inmates have been charged. That stabbing was included in 23 inmate-on-inmate attacks recorded through Sept. 3, out of which 10 were classified “major incidents.”

Records from the state Depart­ment of Corrections show serious attacks against staff are high at ASMP when compared with other prisons. Through Sept. 3, ASMP has recorded 20 major incidents against staff, tying it for second place with Georgia Diagnostic State Pri­son, which has double the capacity. Coastal State Prison in Savannah topped the list with 21 incidents.

Incident reports from this year paint an often vivid account of life behind bars and the danger corrections officers dodge on a frequent basis.

On July 3, an inmate was found unresponsive in his cell, face down in a pool of blood. His roommate refused to be handcuffed so officers could enter the cell, and he had to be subdued with pepper spray. The injured inmate told officers that he had been beaten four times already and that this time he was beaten while sleeping.

“I just want to go home,” the inmate said in his report. “I don’t want any roommates. They say they are going to try and kill me … but I have done nothing to these people.”

In August, a corrections officer went to the emergency room with arm and back injuries after he was pulled through the flap of a cell door as he took the handcuffs off an inmate. Another officer was struck in the head by an inmate who had wrapped his fist with a chain, “stunning” the sergeant, according to a report.

The analysis shows ASMP often records more major than minor incidents, while the reverse usually holds true for higher-capacity prisons. In 2010, for instance, Geor­gia State Prison easily led in inmate-to-staff incidents with 244, but only one of those was classified as major. By comparison, ASMP, with a capacity of 1,126 versus Georgia State’s 1,255, reported 20 major incidents and three minor ones.

For “security reasons,” the Corrections Depart­ment refused to explain what distinguishes a minor incident from a major one and whether the classification varies between prisons. A request for comment Friday about the analysis was not answered.

Reviewing the incident reports at ASMP doesn’t make the difference clearer.

In two incidents in Jan­uary and February, two inmates were sent to the emergency room with cuts to the scalp after they were struck in the head; one had been attacked with a lock in a sock. In an August incident that injured two inmates, one was taken by ambulance to the emergency with puncture wounds to the chest. In June, an inmate was sent to the emergency room for a CT scan with a bloody face and an eye swollen shut. In July, an inmate received a “bad laceration with soft tissue exposed.” All of these incidents were classified as minor.

Reports show corrections officers and nurses are routinely slapped, punched and harassed by inmates, but there’s also a disparity in how similar events are classified. In major incidents in May and August, an officer was splashed with urine and feces thrown from a cup. In a similar event, found in a report dated Aug. 6, a combination of urine and bleach was splashed onto an officer’s face, requiring him to go to the emergency room. The latter event is classified as minor.


Inmate-on-inmate attacks and inmate-on-staff attacks are divided between major and minor incidents. Records show there are many prisons with more incidents per year than Augusta State Medical Prison, but it typically records high numbers of major incidents, especially inmate-on-staff attacks.

The top five prisons for inmate-to-staff attacks labeled major Incidents:

2011 (THROUGH SEPT. 3)

Coastal State Prison 21

Augusta State Medical Prison 20

Georgia Diagnostic State Prison 20

Phillips State Prison 11

Baldwin State Prison 10


Smith State Prison 34

Georgia Diagnostic State Prison 28

Augusta State Medical Prison 20

Coastal State Prison 19

Baldwin State Prison 17


Georgia Diagnostic State Prison 32

Smith State Prison 26

Hays State Prison 18

Augusta State Medical Prison 15

Johnson State Prison 12


Georgia Diagnostic State Prison 33

Augusta State Medical Prison 25

Smith State Prison 21

Autry State Prison 19

Rutledge State Prison 12

Source: Augusta Chronicle analysis

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Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 11/07/11 - 02:07 am
Self-collected and -reported

Self-collected and -reported data are as indicative of the honesty and integrity of the collectors and reporters as they are of the frequency of the behaviors enumerated. That is, honest people tend to collect and report more data about incidents than do dishonest ones. At least that was my experience in the GDOC and the CCSS before my retirement in March 2005.

I'd expect ASMP and the CCSS to have more incidents in the period 2008-2009 and 2008- the present, respectively, because of the high level of integrity of the folks heading these institutions at that time.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 11/07/11 - 08:56 am
Without context and

Without context and normalization, the rankings are meaningless.

literallyamerican 11/07/11 - 09:16 am
I have learned the DOC is the

I have learned the DOC is the most dishonest place on earth which is scary considering who they house. They are abusive themselves. People should step up and realize that most of those people in there will get out at some point and if they are abused while in there is doesnt make good for us when they get out. The DOC is corrupt and unmonitored and accountable to no one. They hide and cover up all that they themselves do when it comes to abuse. Inmates are people who commit crimes and I believe in punishment but abuse is another thing.

rmwhitley 11/07/11 - 12:19 pm
What is the demographic

What is the demographic breakdown of the prison? It might be interesting to see if some profiling isn't necessary.

bclicious 11/07/11 - 10:37 pm
The key to this story is

The key to this story is "Augusta State MEDICAL prison" In my mind the first thing that comes up is Mental Health prisoners. I am sure that there are more than a few at ASMP; therefore, I ponder that this would increase the chance of an incident.

rmwhitley 11/08/11 - 12:43 pm
Every prisoner in every

Every prisoner in every prison, jail or home confinement has some sort of mental health issue, or they'd be free.

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