Prison hunger strike ends as Georgia denies abuse claims

A hunger strike by 10 inmates at the Georgia Classification & Diagnostic Prison has ended, according to the Department of Corrections. The strike, which sparked a protest at the state capitol building Monday, lasted from June 10 to July 6. Corrections is also denying claims that it mistreated the striking prisoners.

"The hunger strike ended when inmates requested food from GDC officials," said Dabney Weems, a public relations official.

The inmates, and about 40 supporters at the state capitol, were demanding that Georgia change the way it treats prisoners, particularly Miguel Jackson.

Jackson, whose wife Delma Jackson organized the July 9 protest, has been imprisoned for armed robbery since 1996.

His family alleges that Jackson was beaten by prison guards at Smith State Prison in December 2010, transferred in 2011 to the Georgia Classification & Diagnostic Prison, and kept in solitary confinement there for the past 18 months.

"Miguel and other inmates at Georgia Diagnostics have been denied access to proper hygiene [and] medical treatment for their numerous and severe injuries, many of which were inflicted 18 months ago," Delma Jackson wrote in a petition.

But the Department of Corrections denied those allegations in a statement to the AJC.

"[The Georgia Bureau of Investigation] investigated the claim filed by inmate Miguel Jackson regarding the 2010 Smith State Prison incident and found no validity to the inmate's complaint," Weems said.

The department also said that Jackson has not been held in solitary confinement.

That may not satisfy protesters, who were insistent that Jackson has been in solitary confinement since December 2011.

"It's just the beginning," demonstrator Sopiko Japaridze said after the Monday protest. "The state will have serious problems if it doesn't meet our demands."

But the Department of Corrections did not express any intention to change its policies.

"The Department maintains a commitment to operating safe and secure facilities, and providing the appropriate level of care as is constitutionally mandated," Weems said.