People are dying in Georgian prisons.
Many people die in Georgian prisons and many of them are murdered by fellow inmates.
An aggressive investigation by the Atlanta Journal Constitution indicates that more than 50 inmates in Georgia state jails have been murdered in less than two years.
As we have reported, others have died from suicides, undisclosed illnesses and nebulous causes.
We are now reporting that a federal grand jury indicted a former Valdosta State Prison officer with a use of force incident.
The prison officer was charged with being an accomplice in the murder of a prisoner on December 29, 2018.
Of course, at the time, full details around the inmate’s death were withheld, but this is not unusual in Georgia where prison officials are less than available and the state is doing little to demand transparency.
In the Valdosta case, the officer is accused of failing to report the fatal blows to the authorities and of attempting to get the other two guards not to write about the incident in reports while providing false statements to the authorities. FBI.
Of course, it’s good that all of this has now been disclosed and there appears to be some accountability.
However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation should not find out what is going on in Georgian prisons, sometimes in the hands of the very guards responsible for the security of the inmates.
What happens in our prisons is kept in the dark and bad things always happen in the dark. It is high time to shed light on Georgian prisons.
Georgian lawmakers and the Attorney General must take action and pass legislation requiring greater transparency. In the same way that local law enforcement agencies are required to file and disclose all incident reports – without exception – and to include the full account of what happens in each of these incidents, prison officers should be forced to comply with similar public disclosure laws.
In addition, the prison video must be declared publicly open and released in a timely manner.
There is a lot of controversy around prison reform, but there should be absolutely no controversy or reluctance around prison transparency.
As we have said time and time again, people who have nothing to hide are not hiding.
What are the prison authorities hiding in Georgia?
A prison sentence should not be a death sentence.
Jim Zachary is editor of the Valdosta Daily Times, director of newsroom training and development for CNHI, and chairman emeritus of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.