Corrections officers resign over viral jail beating

Two supervising corrections officers, apparently on duty when 18-year-old Cortez Berry was being beaten at the Burruss Correctional Training Center have resigned.

Gwendolyn Hogan, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Corrections, would not disclose the names of the officers, citing the ongoing investigation into Berry’s beating and the continued use of cell phones in prisons.

In March, Berry, who was serving time for armed robbery and carjacking, was beaten by at least 10 gang members at Burruss. His family said the beating occurred because he refused to join the gang.

After the beating, gang-members took photos of Berry’s battered face and posted them on Facebook. One photo showed Berry kneeling in front of two shirtless men. One of them had wrapped a makeshift leash around Berry’s neck.

The incident starkly dramatized the brutality that occurs in many prison settings. It also brought attention to the fact that Georgia continues to have a problem with illegal contraband and cell phone usage among inmates.

In 2012, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that corrections officials confiscated more than 8,700 illegal cell phones the year before. Another 13,500 cellphones were confiscated from Georgia prisons in 2013.

Several days after the beating and release of the photos, Berry was moved into protective custody at Smith State Prison. His family protested that it was even more dangerous than Burruss. On Monday Hogan announced that Berry had been transferred again, to Macon State Prison.

“It is okay,” said Berry’s mother, Demetria Harris. “But I am still afraid for him. My thing now is to try to get him out.”

Hogan said the two men in the photo with Berry have also been transferred.

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