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Concerns rise over inmate safety as Georgia state prisons record 34 Suicides and 20 Homicides in 2022

19 Dec 2023, Jail News, by

Georgia state prisons are in turmoil: 239 deaths in 2022. ‘They Have No Voice’ organization advocates reform and safety.

Concerns rise over inmate safety as Georgia state prisons record 34 Suicides and 20 Homicides in 2022 - Inmate Lookup

In 2022, the Georgia Department of Corrections reported a total of 239 deaths within Georgia state prisons. Out of these, 131 were attributed to natural causes, 51 were undetermined, 34 were suicides, 20 were homicides, and 3 were accidental incidents.

Susan Burns, after witnessing her son’s treatment in Georgia’s state jail, founded the 501(c) charity “They Have No Voice.” She has been gathering information and assisting other families whose loved ones have been incarcerated since her son’s release from jail.

Among those aided by Burns is Sandra Goodman, whose son is currently incarcerated in Central State Prison on a drug charge. Expressing concerns for her son’s safety, Goodman has heard accounts of corruption within the prison. She recounted an incident where she received a Cash App request, purportedly from her son, but it turned out to be another inmate posing as him.

Despite regulations prohibiting cell phones in prisons, Goodman acknowledged that they are often brought in illegally. She adheres to sending money to her son through the prison’s online commissary system.

Recently, Hollis Bryant was killed in Central State Prison, prompting Burns to track down Bryant’s family in order to assist them, but her attempts have been unsuccessful.

Burns pointed out the safety concerns in many Georgia prisons, citing understaffing as a significant issue at Macon State Prison, where only four corrections officers oversee 1,750 inmates. She suggested that there should have been 35 people present if every control booth were properly manned 24/7.

In a separate incident, Maquis Johnson was stabbed to death at Central State Prison on Monday, according to Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones.

They Have No Voice offers families a set of frequently asked questions to aid their loved ones, including information about the warden, guidance on staying out of trouble, and the importance of having a power of attorney. Burns emphasizes advising families on actions that can contribute to the well-being of their relatives, such as not getting involved in conflicts.

Burns stresses the importance of families remaining cautious and uninvolved, stating, “Stay in your lane, don’t break up a fight, stay out of it, don’t get involved. If you’re involved, you may very well die.”

Goodman expresses hope for change for her son and other inmates. She stated that they are not suggesting that the inmates should not be punished, but rather that they treat them humanely, as individuals with hearts and souls, just like people outside of prison.

At present, the U.S. Justice Department is investigating Georgia’s 34 state prisons, with ten located in central Georgia. According to the early records from 2020, at least 26 inmates died in the state’s prison. In 2022, the federal agency took the state’s Department of Corrections to court, alleging a failure to provide essential information and documents, including the number of inmate deaths.