The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s comprehensive coverage of Georgia prisons

Civil rights in Georgia prisons will be the subject of a federal investigation announced Tuesday.

Credit: David Barnes

Credit: David Barnes

Civil rights in Georgia prisons will be the subject of a federal investigation announced Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday it is launching an investigation into reports of violence and sexual abuse among prisoners in Georgia.

“No prisoner’s sentence should include violence at the hands of other prisoners behind bars,” U.S. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said during the announcement.

In 2020, at least 26 people died in state prisons by confirmed or suspected homicide, Clarke said. This year, there have been 18 suspected homicides.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s coverage of Georgia prisons has included articles on violence, COVID preparedness, staff shortages, the condition pregnant female prisoners face before and after childbirth, among others. Here is a look at recent coverage:

Aug. 20: Atlanta federal pen nearly vacant amid corruption investigation: An investigation into alleged corruption at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta has led federal officials to transfer about 1,100 offenders to correctional facilities in other states.

Aug. 11: State lawmakers barred from touring Arrendale prison: Seven state representatives probing allegedly inhumane conditions at Georgia’s largest women’s prison were denied entry.

Aug. 5: Critics blast Georgia prison conditions, staffing levels and care: One prisoner says his biggest challenge is staying alive.

July 30: Georgia inmate stabbed to death in prison: Joshua Carl Haynes Lester, 34, was an inmate at Central State Prison.

Feb. 24: ‘Treat them as humans.’ Advocates lobby senators for prison reform: Georgia’s prisons have reached a crisis point, reform advocates said during a state Senate hearing.

Feb. 1: Georgia prison sergeant dies from COVID-19 complications: Sgt. Grace Bellamy worked at Wilcox State Prison in Abbeville, about 75 miles south of Macon, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.

Carrington Frye (center) was killed in Macon State Prison in March 2020 during a fight over a contraband cellphone. (Family photo)

Credit: Jennifer Bradley (for the AJC)

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Credit: Jennifer Bradley (for the AJC)

Jan. 22: Georgia prisons ‘beyond the crisis point’: Critics say federal intervention is needed.

Dec 10, 2020: Georgia prison workers told of plan to privatize health care: The Georgia Department of Corrections told employees about plans that could impact hundreds of jobs.

Oct 22, 2020: Effort to privatize Ga. prison health care draws fear from experts, advocates: Experts and people who have been incarcerated say the department already has a rock-bottom medical budget.

Oct. 5, 2020: Officials investigating suspected homicide at Georgia prison: Robbie Brower, serving a 60-year sentence for kidnapping, was found badly injured in his cell at Macon State Prison.

An exterior view in 2016 of Pulaski State Prison: the overall crime rate is down, the overall number of prisoners sent to stand prison is down, and the number of black inmates sent to prison is steadily declining as well. (Hyosub Shin /


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Oct. 1, 2020: Women’s prison ravaged by COVID, fear: Pulaski State Prison a hotbed for the coronavirus.

Sept. 21, 2020: Human rights group requests federal intervention in Georgia’s prisons: The situation in correctional facilities has devolved into a humanitarian crisis, says the Southern Center for Human Rights.

Aug. 31, 2020: Georgia may privatize prison pharmacies; workers fear layoffs: Workers fear trouble finding new jobs, especially where the facility is the region’s chief employer.

Aug 28, 2020: Medical administrator claims Ga. prison retaliated after she pushed for more COVID testing: There was no plan for dealing with the coronavirus at Autry State Prison, said its former health services administrator.

Aug. 21, 2020: CDC: Prison COVID-19 cases undercounted without mass testing: Georgia’s refusal to conduct mass testing in prisons has only added to the number of COVID-19 infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Aug 3, 2020: Guards: South Georgia prison riot a bad omen for other facilities: At least two correctional officers have quit and others are considering it after a violent riot at Ware State Prison.

In a screen shot from Facebook video purportedly taken early Sunday morning at Ware State Prison, inmates help one of their own who was hurt in a riot.

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Aug. 2, 2020: South Georgia prison on lockdown after riot: Officials say a riot broke out at Ware State Prison near Waycross, where two guards were stabbed and officers deployed “non-lethal ammunition” on inmates.

July 29, 2020: 4th Georgia prisoner killed in suspected homicide this month: Louis Garcia-Palacio, serving a three-year sentence for possessing methamphetamine, was killed in Telfair State Prison.

Shauntrice Murry during a visit with loved ones before her cancer diagnosis.

Credit: Family photo

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Credit: Family photo

June 16, 2020: Georgia inmate dies without seeing family due to COVID-19: Shauntrice Murry died waiting for a final ruling from the state of Georgia on whether she could see loved ones one last time.

May 7, 2020: 10th Georgia prison inmate dies from coronavirus: A 61-year-old, whose name was not released, was housed at Baldwin State Prison in Milledgeville.

April 20, 2020: Georgia jails and prisons remain crowded as COVID-19 spreads: Prisoners across the state talk of unsanitary conditions and say they’ve been given little more to ward off the virus than bars of soap.

April 9, 2020: Eligible for home release, inmates remain at Atlanta federal prison: While more than 700 federal prisoners across the country had been released to home confinement, the men in Atlanta waited.

April 6, 2020: Fear spreads behind bars after two prisoner deaths at Lee State Prison: Several inmates and employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

April 5, 2020: Second Lee State inmate dies of COVID-19: The man was hospitalized in Albany on March 18.

April 2, 2020: Internal email details ‘desperate need’ for sanitizer at federal pen: The Atlanta federal penitentiary was scrambling more than a week after the coronavirus brought the nation to a standstill.

April 2, 2020: No quick release for dying GA inmate who can’t see family amid pandemic: A dying Georgia inmate has been denied a sentence commutation that would have allowed her release.

March 23, 2020: Four more Lee State prisoners tested for COVID-19: A fourth inmate has been admitted to the hospital for observation after complaining of flu-like symptoms.

March 21, 2020: Dying inmate can’t see family due to coronavirus, wants release: Shauntrice Murry’s doctor has said he’s done all he could to help her.

March 21, 2020: Georgia prison inmates test positive for COVID-19: The incarcerated men are from Lee State Prison, a 762-unit medium-level detention center in Lee County.

March 19, 2020: No extra soap’: Georgia inmates say prisons not ready for COVID-19: “It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” says one inmate.

March 17, 2020: Jails, prisons try to hold off COVID-19 as critics want more done: The Georgia DOC has halted visits for all prison inmates, including from their attorneys, and has instituted stronger sanitation measures to combat the virus.