Violence in Georgia Prisons Exacerbated by Door Locks that Don’t Lock

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Hays State Prison in northwest Georgia has been one of the state’s most dangerous correctional facilities, in part because the locks on cell doors didn’t always work.


The prison, which can house up to 1,700 inmates, saw four prisoners killed by other inmates in a seven-week period between December 19, 2012, and February 5, 2013. That prompted state officials to finally do something about the problem, by spending $1 million on an emergency contract to replace the locks.


But prisoner-rights advocates have questioned why it took the state so long to fix things.


Three years ago, the state inspector general raised questions about the locking systems and whether they were “a cost-effective and efficient use of current technologies.” In September 2012 an audit determined that 184 out of 442 locks at Hays failed.


Sarah Geraghty, senior attorney for The Southern Center for Human Rights, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it should not have taken so many deaths to make the locks a priority.


“Allowing the prison’s locks to deteriorate for years put officers and prisoners at risk and likely increased the eventual cost of lock replacement,” Geraghty said.


The Southern Center for Human Rights has voiced other complaints, specifically about Hays administrators who allegedly alerted inmates of upcoming searches in order to boost the prison’s security reviews.


The Center also complained that prisoners routinely slept in the wrong cells and were allowed to move around the prison without being detected. Geraghty noted that “Gang leaders exercise control over housing assignments and were permitted to expel prisoners they no longer wanted in their dorms.”


-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Ga. State Prison Finds New Issue with Locks (by Rhonda Cook and Aaron Gould Sheinin, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Georgia's Hays State Prison Sees Exodus of Guards; Violence Feared when Inmate Lockdown Ends (by Joy Lukachick, Chattanooga Times Free Press)


Leave a comment