Georgia prison employees arrested for drug crimes, battery, sexual assault of inmates

Nearly 200 men and women working for the Georgia Department of Corrections have been arrested for various crimes related to their jobs in the last two and a half years, according to a list obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The list, provided by the GDC in response to the AJC’s Open Records Act request, shows 195 instances in which the department’s employees have been arrested since the start of 2020 through June 30 of this year.

Of that total, 143 involved officers certified by the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council. They primarily are corrections officers.

The list shows that 69 arrests involved drugs. Details about the offenses are limited, but most appear to involve GDC personnel trafficking in drugs or crossing prison guard lines with them.

Most of the drug arrests — 52 — involved marijuana, with 11 of the 52 also including methamphetamine. Another nine drug charges involved meth alone. That includes a case where two employees allegedly tried to smuggle meth inside a Hot Pocket snack.

Twenty-one arrests involved a charge of battery. That includes the arrests of five Rutledge State Prison employees last September. Four are accused in a case where a handcuffed inmate at the Columbus prison was beaten. The fifth employee was accused of beating an inmate in a separate incident.

The list also shows nine GDC employees were arrested for sexual assault, including four involving assaults of persons in custody at Lee Arrendale State Prison, Georgia’s largest facility for women. Another sexual assault charge was against a sergeant at the Arrendale Transitional Center.

Under Georgia law, a person with supervisory authority over another person can be charged with sexual assault even if there’s consent.

One teacher is listed as being arrested for sexual assault against a person in custody. That happened at Autry State Prison.

The only other teacher on the list is DaShawn Melvin, who was the GED instructor at Pulaski State Prison until he was fired in April after he was arrested on charges that he was trying to bring contraband into the prison for a gang-affiliated inmate.

Melvin testified in June that he had inappropriate sexual contact with that inmate as well as a half-dozen others, but his statements — made in a Fulton County court under a grant of immunity — have not led to criminal charges.