People are dying in Georgia prisons.
Many people die in Georgia 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 prisons have been victims of homicide in less than two years.
As we reported, others have died of suicide, undisclosed illnesses, and unclear causes.
We are now reporting that a federal grand jury has indicted a former Valdosta State Prison officer for a use of force incident.
The prison officer was charged with being an accessory to the beating death of a prisoner on December 29, 2018.
Of course, at the time, the full details of the inmate’s death were not released, but that’s not unusual in Georgia, where prison officials are tight-lipped and the state doesn’t do much. to demand transparency.
In the Valdosta case, the officer is accused of failing to report the fatal beating to authorities and of trying to get the other two guards not to record the incident in reports while making false statements to the FBI.
Of course, it’s good that all of this has now been leaked and there seems to be some accountability.
It shouldn’t take the Federal Bureau of Investigation to find out what’s going on in Georgia prisons, though, sometimes at the hands of the very guards charged with guarding 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. Just as local law enforcement is required to file and disclose all incident reports – without exception – and include the full story of what happened in each such incident, officials the prison should be compelled to comply with similar laws on public disclosure.
Additionally, the prison video should be declared an open public record for release 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 many times, people who have nothing to hide don’t hide.
What are prison officials hiding in Georgia?
A prison sentence should not be a death sentence.
Jim Zachary is editor of the Valdosta Daily Times, director of training and newsroom development at CNHI, and chairman emeritus of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.