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The Georgia State Prison Cemetery in Reidsville provides burials for prison inmates when private or family burials are not available. Between 2020 and 2022, at least 90 people were victims of homicide throughout all of Georgia’s prisons. (Lewis Levine)

Credit: Lewis Levine

The Georgia State Prison Cemetery in Reidsville provides burials for prison inmates when private or family burials are not available. Between 2020 and 2022, at least 90 people were victims of homicide throughout all of Georgia’s prisons. (Lewis Levine)
GEORGIA PRISON CORRUPTION: Third in a series

Death toll sets new records amid staffing crisis at Georgia prisons

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include two additional homicides and a suicide in October 2023.

Georgia prisons have become much deadlier places in the past three years, as record numbers of inmates were slain or took their own lives.

Between 2020 and 2022 at least 90 people were victims of homicide in Georgia’s prisons, triple the number from the previous three years combined, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found. In the past three years, 99 inmates took their own lives, with an unprecedented 43 of the suicides occurring in 2022.

Death records reveal the grim reality of the violence.

Most of the homicide victims died from stabbings that landed almost everywhere during fights. The head. The neck. The torso. The heart. Others died from blunt force trauma suffered during beatings. Strangulations were eerily common.

Hanging accounted for almost all suicides.

The Georgia Department of Corrections blames the nature of those people inside its prisons for the violence besetting the system. “Our staff work in the most dangerous communities in Georgia,” the department said. Many prisoners are gang-affiliated, GDC officials added, and are serving long sentences for violent crimes. The department also has said that, as a response to an increase in the number of inmates with mental health diagnoses, it has expanded mental health services and mandated mental health training for all employees.

But many family members of those who have died say the state isn’t doing what it should to protect those in its system, as understaffing has left prisoners vulnerable. The family of Charles “Tristen” McKee is among those blaming the system. McKee was murdered at Hancock State Prison in 2022. A civil case filed in federal court says McKee had a history of mental illness and suicide attempts and identified as LGBTQ and transgender.

That made him a target for gang violence, the suit says. “He was tortured for seven years,” said Lisa Spradlin, McKee’s mother.

Incarcerated at 17 for arson and theft, McKee was stabbed in the eye within a week of arriving in prison, just the first of many stabbings he suffered. In the last one, in May 2022, he died in an attack by gang members described in the lawsuit as a bloodbath. Members of the Bloods and Gangster Disciples allegedly stabbed McKee 12 times, according to the suit. He was 24.

Spradlin said she had worked for years as a correctional officer in a men’s prison in West Virginia. She found the conditions in Georgia’s prisons appalling. “My son’s life meant nothing to them,” she said.

According to the lawsuit, the prison was dramatically understaffed at the time, and officers did not show up until 45 minutes after the attack.

These are the known homicides and suicides since 2020, although determinations have not been made on the manner of death for roughly two dozen other deaths since December 2022. The AJC verified the deaths and related information using information from the GDC, death certificates and published obituaries.

Research shows that news reporting on suicide can influence individuals who may be considering harming themselves. Best practices for media are to take care reporting details like manner of death and personal details about the person who died. For those reasons, names and details of prisoners who died by suicide are not included.

Augusta State Medical Prison

Eddie Gosier, 39; May 2, 2020, ligature strangulation. He died just hours after an inmate with a particularly violent history was moved by guards into his cell. Gosier’s killer, Daniel Luke Ferguson, had previously strangled to death an inmate at Hays State Prison after being sentenced to life in prison when he was 18 for the shooting death of a neighbor in Walton County.

Thomas Henry Giles, 31; Oct. 28, 2020, inhalation of products of combustion; incident report says fire

Terry Lee Bennett II, 43; Jan. 10, 2021, blunt impact to the head

Ali Lamont Tanner, 45; July 2, 2021, stabbed

William Taylor Bodge, 61; Feb. 5, 2022, delayed complications of blunt force injuries

Raphael Zachery Milligan, 41; July 21, 2022, blunt force injuries and strangulation

Amos Bennett Huff Jr., 60; March 30, 2023, strangled

• Number of suicides: 13

Autry State Prison*

• Number of suicides: 1

*Prison was closed in 2022

Baldwin State Prison

Joshua Emanuel Williams, 22; July 3, 2020, multiple sharp-force injuries

Jose Martin Ibarra Garcia, 41; June 15, 2021, multiple stab wounds to the head

Edward Jamar McCloud, 40; July 23, 2021, sharp-force injury to the neck

Jamari McClinton, 21; Aug. 11, 2021, stabbed. He was slain just five days after being transferred from Phillips State Prison, where he had been in protective custody after threats from gang members. Protection was removed when he was transferred.

Bedarius Clark, 26; Aug. 21, 2021, homicide. He was found unresponsive in the prison’s segregation unit. GDC described the death as an assault. Cause not reported. Certificate not in.

Fredrick Louis Spears Jr., 27; May 2, 2023, stab wound of the torso

Johnny Vaughn, 39; Oct. 4, 2023, cause not reported. Certificate not in. GDC said he died after a fight involving multiple inmates.

• Number of suicides: 4

Burruss Correctional Training Center

• Number of suicides: 1

Calhoun State Prison

• Number of suicides: 1

Central State Prison

Joshua Carl-Haynes Lester, 34; July 28, 2021, stab wound to the chest

• Number of suicides: 3

Coastal State Prison

Kion E. Parks, 31; Sept. 14, 2021, stabbed. Incident report shows five other inmates were involved in the incident.

Rufus Ramon Lee, 27; Dec. 14, 2021, stab wound of the chest. Incident report shows four other inmates were involved in the incident.

Salomon Ramirez, 43; Oct. 20, 2023, apparent homicide. Cause not stated. Certificate not available.

• Number of suicides: 3

Coffee Correctional Facility

Kendall Ja’Mal Cromer, 31; Nov. 30, 2020, stab wound of the neck and chest. Incident report shows four other inmates were involved.

Hendricks Riley Gunn, 42; Jan. 1, 2022, blunt force injuries of head and neck

• Number of suicides: 2

Dodge State Prison

Douglas Anthony Forts, 57; June 2, 2022, acute traumatic amputation of finger during fight

Hezekiah Sha’Nard Cuyler, 21; Sept. 14, 2022, stabbing

• Number of suicides: 1

Dooly State Prison

Dimitri Merci Jackson, 36; Jan. 3, 2023, stab wound of the chest

Chad Roadifer, 45; Oct. 27, 2023, homicide, cause not listed. Certificate not in.

• Number of suicides: 5

Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison

Daniel Charriez, 46; Feb. 23, 2022, delayed complications of traumatic brain injury, four months interval

Boyd Henry Williams, 64; Oct. 3, 2022, manual strangulation, blunt force trauma to head

Elmer Pless, 65; May 15, 2023, homicide, cause not listed. Certificate not in.

Carrell Beontae Johnson, 32; June 6, 2023, chopping injuries of the head and sharp-force injuries of the torso

• Number of suicides: 11

Georgia State Prison*

Raul Bailon Garcia, 39; April 21, 2020, positional asphyxia and suffocation due to assault, blunt trauma to soft tissues

Joctavious Artez Newsome, 25; Nov. 4, 2020, stab wound

Demetrius Stubbins, 38; Dec. 21, 2020, stab wound to the chest

Christopher Dewayne Mathis, 37; Feb. 26, 2021, blunt force trauma to head

Christopher D’Corro Ward, 29; May 25, 2021, carbon monoxide poisoning due to smoke inhalation/methamphetamine toxicity. Incident report shows fire.

Fabian Garcia-Mata, 27; Sept. 10, 2021, multiple stab wounds

Troy Donald Harvey, 34; Sept. 12, 2021, stab wound of the chest

• Number of suicides: 13

*Prison was closed in early 2022.

Hancock State Prison

Cesar Arnold Pastrana Morales, 33; March13, 2020, stab wound of the chest. Incident report shows five other inmates involved in the incident.

Rashad Bolton, 29; Jan. 4, 2021, puncture wound to the chest with sharp object

Dwayne Zackery Jr., 22; Feb. 12, 2021, stab wound to the chest with homemade knife

Charles Tristen James McKee, 24; May 23, 2022, stabbed. Incident report shows five other inmates directly involved. A lawsuit alleges he was placed in a dorm with known gang members who were hostile to LGBTQ inmates.

Terry Lee Bishop, 49; Oct. 18, 2022, blunt force trauma, acute toxicity of methamphetamine, acute toxicity of cannabinoids

Norman Samples, 59; Dec. 27, 2022, homicide. Cause not stated. Certificate not in.

Roland Lamont Phillips, 33; June 28, 2023, multiple sharp-force injuries

Francisco Melgar-Saldivar, 23; Aug. 12, 2023, homicide. Death certificate not in.

• Number of suicides: 2

Hays State Prison

Anthony L. McGhee Jr., 34; March 29, 2020, complications of blunt-force head trauma and sharp-force trauma of torso and extremities

Jorge Renberto Ventura-Cabrera, 35; June 5, 2021, stab wounds of neck, torso and upper extremities. Incident report shows two other inmates involved.

Quintez Smith, 25; Aug. 29, 2022, multiple sharp-force injuries

Talore Blackford, 31; Oct. 27, 2023, homicide. Cause not stated, certificate not in.

• Number of suicides: 5

Jefferson County Correctional Institution

• Number of suicides: 1

Jenkins Correctional Facility

• Number of suicides: 1

Johnson State Prison

Jerry Lee Brown, 61; Nov. 12, 2020, stab wounds to the head, blunt-force injury to face

David Lamar Henegar, 44; Oct. 16, 2021, manual strangulation and blunt-force injuries of the head, torso and extremities

Michael Page, 53; June 29, 2023, homicide. Cause not stated. Certificate not in.

• Number of suicides: 5

Lee State Prison

• Number of suicides: 1

Lee Arrendale State Prison

Angela Anderson, 39; Sept. 11, 2022, homicide. Cause not stated. Certificate not in. According to news reports, an arrest warrant said Anderson was strangled.

• Number of suicides: 1

Macon State Prison

Johnny Eugene Young, 24; Jan. 27, 2020, sharp-force injury of mouth/tongue

Rafael Blas Becerra, 36; March 7, 2020, stab wounds to the upper torso. Incident report shows seven other inmates involved, with six injured.

Carrington Juwon Frye, 23; March 20, 2020, stab wounds of the neck and chest. Incident report shows two other inmates involved.

David Travis Alexander Dennis, 35; May 13, 2020, multiple sharp-force injuries

Coty Dustin Silvers, 39; May 23, 2020, asphyxia

Bobby Edward Lee Jr., 38; July 13, 2020, ligature strangulation. A federal lawsuit alleges he died from gang violence, understaffing, and indifference by prison officials.

Robbie B. Brower, 58; Oct. 4, 2020, blunt and sharp-force injuries to the head and neck

Raul Villegas, 37; Dec. 13, 2020, stab wound to the torso. Incident report shows three other inmates involved.

Carlos Maurice Fisher Jr., 30; May 10, 2021, multiple sharp-force injuries

Ryan Weston Darville, 37; Dec. 29, 2021, stab wounds of the chest

Joseph Walter Brown, 36; July 26, 2022, multiple stab wounds

Dan Brooks, 50; Aug. 21, 2022, stab wound of the neck

Kendrick Malik Brown, 25; Oct. 16, 2022, blunt-force head injury

James Cornelius McLeroy III, 26; Dec. 19, 2022, stab wounds of the torso

Sabino Carlos Ramos, 34; March 22, 2023, multiple stab wounds

Kevin Deshawn Lamar, 44; Aug. 10, 2023, homicide. Death certificate not in.

Taurean Hardy, 41, Dec. 10, 2023, homicide. Death certificate not in.

• Number of suicides: 3

Patten Probation Detention Center

• Number of suicides: 1

Phillips State Prison

Dave Stone, 61; Nov. 20, 2021, closed head trauma, delayed effects

Jamal Cymonne Johnson, 32; June 11, 2022, stab wounds of the head

Sidney Sanchez Nealey, 22; July 18, 2022, stab wounds of the torso

Jacob Kendall Daniels, 18; Aug. 13, 2022, stab wound of the neck, shoulder and arm

Quafabian Melik McBride, 19; Sept. 30, 2022, stab wound of chest, injuring heart; sharp-force injuries of head, torso and upper extremities. Stabbing occurred during a gang-related fight in the lockdown unit. McBride was housed elsewhere in the prison and had been brought to lockdown that day through the arrangements of officers.

Alim Rasheed Lovett, 33; Dec. 8, 2022, stab wounds of the back, injuring right lung. Also sharp-force injuries of the head, torso and right thigh. Incident report shows four other offenders involved.

Arthur James Wimbush Jr., 46; April 2, 2023. Blunt-force trauma with fracture of thyroid cartilage

• Number of suicides: 3

Pulaski State Prison

• Number of suicides: 2

Rogers State Prison

• Number of suicides: 2

Rutledge State Prison

Curtis Mincey, 74; July 22, 2021, blunt-force trauma of the head, neck, torso and extremities

Daniel Nichols. 26; April 23, 2023, homicide. Cause not stated. Certificate not in.

• Number of suicides: 2

Screven County Correctional Institution

• Number of suicides: 1

Smith State Prison

Taylor Harrison Brooks, 26; April 10, 2020, multiple stab wounds

John Bretleir Reyes Cardona, 24; April 20, 2020, exsanguination (severe loss of blood) from stab wound to neck

Justin Nathaniel Wilkerson, 25; Jan. 5, 2021, asphyxia, neck compression

Desmond Hill, 35; April 9, 2021, strangulation

Hiwatha Abdulcah Hakeem Jr., 26; April 12, 2021, multiple stab wounds. Incident report shows four other offenders involved.

Derrick Dionte Deshun Harvey, 26; June 25, 2021, stab wound to the chest

Christopher Ray Reynolds, 38; July 1, 2021, blunt- and sharp-force injuries of the head and neck

Christopher Michael Redwine, 45; Sept. 27, 2021, asphyxia due to manual strangulation

Nathan Michael Mahan, 37; Oct. 23, 2022, stab wounds

Randy O’Neal Wynn, 54; March 2, 2023, homicide. Death certificate says pending investigation

Anthony Zino, 71; April 5, 2023, homicide. Cause not stated. Certificate not in.

Calvin Darrell Denson Jr., 31; April 26, 2023, stab wound to chest. GDC said seven inmates were involved in a fight.

Shaquan Jahrel Boykins, 31; May 11, 2023, homicide. Cause not stated. Certificate says pending investigation.

Justin Smith, 37; July 28, 2023, homicide. Cause not stated. Death certificate not in.

Quenton Mayo, 30; Aug. 14, 2023, homicide. Cause not stated. Death certificate not in.

James Adams Jr., 72; Nov, 8, 2023, blunt force trauma of the head and neck.

• Number of suicides: 8, including one at Smith Transitional Center

Telfair State Prison

Cedric La’Troy Johnson Sr., 35; March 13, 2020, strangulation

Aldrich Norval Cain, 26; April 23, 2020, multiple stab wounds. Incident report shows four other inmates involved.

Marcus Derrelle Pearson Jr., 28; May 29, 2020, multiple stab wounds. Incident report shows two other inmates involved.

Luis Garcia Palacio, 41; July 28, 2020, blunt impact injuries of the head

Juan Carlos Arguelles-Reveles, 37; May 7, 2021, stabbing. Incident report shows 11 other inmates involved.

Xavier LaMar Warren, 32; Dec. 28, 2022, stab wound of the torso. Incident report shows four other inmates involved.

De’ahmoz Oshmic Floyd, 29; April 18, 2023, exsanguination (severe bleeding); stab wound to the side of neck

• Number of suicides: 4

Terrell County Correctional Institution

Logan Todd Peterson, 27; Dec. 27, 2021, post-traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the space around the brain), assault

• Number of suicides: 1

Valdosta State Prison

Prince Leonard Blige, 54; Feb. 12, 2020, stab wound to torso

Orvonta Tillman, 36; June 16, 2020, multiple sharp-force penetrating trauma to thorax

Bobby Carpenter, 31; Sept. 9, 2020, stab wound to the chest

Hakeem Olajuwon Williams, 27; Feb. 28, 2022, stab wound to the chest

Dexter Jarrod Burnett, 35; Sept. 16, 2022, homicide. Cause not stated. Certificate not in.

Lance Montex Lampkin, 41; July 30, 2023, homicide. Cause not stated. Certificate not in.

Quoesent Lamont Bostwick, 35; July 31, 2023, homicide. Cause not stated. Certificate not in.

• Number of suicides: 15, including one at Valdosta Transitional Center

Ware State Prison

Robert Lee Wilson III, 31; July 17, 2020, multiple stab wounds. Incident report shows 16 other inmates involved, seven of whom were injured.

Christopher Arnett Rawls, 32; Sept. 5, 2020, strangulation

Christopher Eli Gresham, 39; Sept. 30, 2021, stab wounds of back and lower extremities. A Sept. 30, 2021, incident report of a homicide says three other inmates were involved.

Kyle Anthony Strother, 31; June 5, 2022, stab wound of the chest

Va’Darian LaVianta Carr, 26; Sept. 18, 2022, stab wound of the chest and back

Alfonso Marquez Moore, 30; June 19, 2023, blunt impact injuries of the head

Thomas McCoy, 38; Oct. 7, 2023, homicide. Cause not reported. Certificate not in.

• Number of suicides: 7

Washington State Prison

Marquis Reshawn Jefferson, 26; May 12, 2022, stab wounds of torso and arm. A May 11, 2022, incident report of a homicide says four other inmates were involved.

DaQuavious Cachone Lackey, 21; May 16, 2022, stab wound of the neck and multiple blunt-force injuries

Michael Lee Jackson, 60; Aug. 17, 2022, multiple blunt-force injuries in the setting of hypertensive cardiovascular disease. Incident report shows two other inmates were involved.

• Number of suicides: 1

Wheeler Correctional Facility

LaParrish Dawayne London, 30; March 21, 2023, stab wound of the chest

• Number of suicides: 3