Georgia prisons are perennially the subject of scathing investigative newspaper reports and legal filings charging “cruel and unusual punishment” by human rights organizations.
For example, in September of 2021, the Department of Justice launched an investigation into the high incidences of violence and persistent unsafe living conditions in Georgia prisons. What prompted their scrutiny? It was the 29 suicides in the state system in 2020, one of the highest figures in the country.
Also there were 44 suspected or confirmed homicides in nine months, from January to September 2020, 93 COVID-19 deaths that year among prisoners and four staff deaths — though the number of prisoner deaths is suspected to be much higher, given the lack of medical attention and COVID-19 safety.
The year 2022 is half over. Has anything changed?
The investigative team of the Atlanta Journal Constitution is often the source of extensive information about prison conditions, which is widely available to the public. In recent articles, the dangerous conditions suffered by women prisoners have been highlighted on the front page.
Of the four state facilities where women are held, Pulaski State Prison, the second-largest, was the source of the horrifying firsthand accounts by the incarcerated women and their families. They described extortion, sexual assault and physical and emotional violence, plus the inhumane living conditions of moldy food, unsanitary cells, callous guards and lack of medical care, which are all fairly standard throughout the Georgia system.
According to U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, he and the FBI are launching an investigation.
If some relief from the daily brutality of incarceration is gained from this latest “investigation,” that would be a welcome outcome. But the truth of the matter is that locking poor and working people in cages, because there was no equity or justice outside the walls, makes it impossible for human rights to flourish inside.
Tear down the walls! People not profits! Build a workers’ world of solidarity!