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Report details extent of violence in Georgia prisons

Saturday, July 5, 2014 10:27 PM
Last updated Sunday, July 6, 2014 1:31 AM
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The recent stabbing death of an Augusta State Medical Prison inmate is one of 34 homicides in Georgia prisons since 2010, according to a new report by the Southern Center for Human Rights.

The center has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the state’s prison system, which the center contends is unable to protect its employees or inmates.

Calls to the public affairs officer at the Department of Cor­­rections were not returned last week.

The Georgia Bureau of In­ves­ti­gation is working on the latest killing at the Augusta prison. Pat Morgan, the special agent in charge of the local GBI office, said he anticipates a suspect will be charged this week in the June 29 stabbing death of Shannon Grier.

Grier, 29, is the third homicide victim at the prison since 2011.

It’s not just the homicides that are detailed in the center’s report, The Crisis of Violence in Georgia’s Prisons. It notes dozens of violent attacks by inmates, including an April 25 stabbing of an Augusta State Medical Prison inmate.

According to an incident report, a guard had escorted Durante Smith back to his cell, where another inmate was lying in wait. LaMorris Russell stabbed Smith twice in the back before the guard was able to pull Smith away, the report said. Russell had been able to get out of his own cell by breaking the lock.

The center contends that many cell locks in prisons throughout the state are broken and have been for years. The report cites prison audits since 2008 that found cell locks could be easily opened. An audit in 2012 found nearly half of the 442 locks examined could be opened without a key.

In February 2013, the Cor­rections Department finally obtained a contract for new locks at Hays State Prison after four inmates were killed in seven weeks.

Although Hays is classified as a close security facility, violent attacks are common. According to the report, from July 2012 to January 2013, 33 inmates were beaten or stabbed.

The center contends that supervision is dangerously inadequate and that prisoners are routinely assaulted without any guard intervention, even when attacks have spanned days.

At Baldwin State Prison, an inmate was attacked Sept. 1, 2012, by a group of prisoners who dragged him into a bathroom and stomped, punched and kicked him in the head, then poured scalding water on his groin and raped him with a broomstick.

The center contends that gangs are controlling the prisons, and weapons and cellphones are easy to get.

At Ware State Prison in May 2012, 25 knives were recovered in two days. The next month, an inmate was chased down by men wielding machetes and had three of his fingers cut off, according to the report.

So far this year, three inmates have been killed in Georgia prisons in Augusta, Macon and Glennville.

In 2013, eight men were killed, including 48-year-old Chris Todd Lowery, who was strangled at Augusta State Me­dical Prison on July 6, 2013. A ninth death was cited by the center, although the Corrections Department classified it as a suicide. The center cited the death certificate’s findings that the man died of ligature strangulation and suffered multiple blunt force trauma.

In 2012, nine inmates were killed and Telfair State Pri­son Correctional Officer Larry Stells was stabbed to death by a prisoner.

In 2011, seven inmates were killed, including 30-year-old Antonio Wiley, who was fatally stabbed Aug. 28, 2011, at the Augusta State Me­dical Prison.

In 2010, seven inmates were homicide victims in Georgia state prisons.

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whyme 07/06/14 - 12:37 am

Many people feel that if you commit a crime, you deserve any physical assaults that occur in prison. I certainly don't support a cushy environment by no means, but I think that it is not acceptable for one inmate to attack and especially rape another just because he can. If I am honest, I wouldn't be as sympathetic if the victim is a heinous child molester. However, what about if you are incarcerated for a nonviolent crime and/or are awaiting trial and you are truly innocent? Should a crime be perpetrated against you? It is interesting that in any other setting, staff would be fired and modifications to safety and procedures would take place, such as at our hospitals, mental health facilities, and schools. But if this occurs in jail or prison, not much happens if anything. Of course so little gets reported because of the fear of retaliation. Just some thoughts...

myfather15 07/06/14 - 05:25 am
What "non-violent" crime would they be in PRISON for?

This isn't the County jail, where you might actually be sitting in there for misdemeanor marijuana; this is the prison system!! This is AFTER you've been convicted of a crime, serious enough to go to prison for, which means felony!!

Now, where some people confuse the issue; they might say their loved one is in prison for marijuana possession. But the truth is, they were in prison for burglary, robbery, aggravated assault, child molestation, etc; and were released on PAROLE!! After they werer released on parole, they were arrested for misdemeanor marijuana, which violated their parole. They are THEN, sent back to prison for PAROLE VIOLATION, not simply for the marijuana possession.

Sorry (not really), but I have ZERO sympathy for these idiots who get out of prison, on parole; then start smoking weed!! They know if they get caught it's bad news for them and they take the calculated risk!!

myfather15 07/06/14 - 05:32 am
Once again; people need to

Once again; people need to learn the difference in County Jail or sometimes referred to as a "Detention Center" and the State Prison System!! The State Prison System does NOT have anyone awaiting trial!! They have been convicted of an offense serious enough to warrant prison!! These are the worst of the worst!! The most violent, selfish criminals you can get!!

If you're arrested on the street for shoplifting chewing gum, you don't go to prison!! You're taken to the County Jail and booked in, until you make BOND or you will stay until your court date. County Jails do not have as much violence, because many of these people haven't been convicted and still have HOPE of getting off. Prison's are ALL convicted people, many with life sentences without parole!! These people basically have nothing to lose!!

corgimom 07/06/14 - 06:31 am
News flash- Prisons are

News flash- Prisons are filled with vile, violent, despicable people. They aren't filled with choir boys and church deacons.

That is why people with common sense makes sure that they lead a decent, productive life and don't commit crimes. They don't ever want to wind up in prison.

nocnoc 07/06/14 - 08:11 am
Are Prisons, Prison anymore or Adult Extended Stay Facilities?

As GA has grown Kinder and more Understanding over the last 4o years in our prison system, our incarceration rates have grown.
Thugs no longer seem to look at prison time as punishment.
Just a place to hang out with other street friends and in clearer, climate controlled environment with clean sheets and 3 sq. meals a day.

Many prisoners still have access to smokes, weed, Apple Jack and other mind bending materials.

What GA needs to do is make Prisons once again a place of punishment and not a temporary extended Stay facility.
More Old School Prison and a LOT LESS NEW AGE understanding.

Because as we can see NEW AGE, Kind and Understanding Sociology based prisons are not working.

Is it time to relook the Past?

Chain Gangs
Stripped cloths according to level of trust.
EARNED basic privileges for extended good behavior.
How about some WORK, Let them, make DOT road signs, Car tags,
Road clearing Chain gangs, Road repair Gangs, Ditch cleaning Garbage Dump operations, etc....

Let them defray their costs by being productive.

Of Course the Violent ones just need to be locked in the their cells and left to themselves for the duration.

itsanotherday1 07/06/14 - 08:13 am
People are in prison to do

People are in prison to do their time; not get beaten, stabbed, raped, etc. The crybaby left will not let us do what is necessary to isolate the animals from the people peacefully serving their sentence.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 07/06/14 - 01:58 pm
Dog Bites Man

Isn't this a bit of a "dog bites man" story? Or a story reminiscent of an "airports are crowded at Thanksgiving" story? It seems only natural to me that state prisons are the scenes of occasional violence.

jimmymac 07/06/14 - 09:28 pm

Liberals have demanded that the death penalty be abolished. Violent crime increases when you have convicted murderers in prison for life. They have nothing to lose if they kill a inmate, guard or like recently a convicted molester rapes a prison teacher. They know the justice system won't seek an eye for an eye. Soft inmates become innocent prey for more violent predators. There's really nothing prison officials can do. If they lock up violent inmates they're accused by liberal groups of inhumane treatment. It's damn if they do and damn if they don't with the liberals. They should open prison's on islands and just drop food to them and let it be an adult version of Lord of the Flies!

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