Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Georgia Dept of Corrections Withholding Medical Care to Brutalized Inmates, Retaliatory Campaign Continues

From the correspondence of their attorney and the testimony of their
families and friends, details are emerging which indicate a still
ongoing campaign of brutal beatings and withheld medical care in the
wake of the December 2010 inmate strike in Georgia prisons. Does the
fact that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has take charge of
inquiries into the beatings confirm the suspicion of some that the
Department of Corrections is not to be trusted with investigating
itself? And is it time, as Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of The Ordinary Peoples
Society suggests, for a thoroughgoing yearlong series of public hearings
into all aspects of Georgia's troubled prisons?

Is Georgia's Dept of Corrections Withholding Medical Care To Beaten
Prisoners as Part of Retaliatory Campaign After Dec 2010 Inmate Strike?

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

officers singled out Miguel Jackson and Kelvin Stevenson, handcuffing
and savagely beating both inmates after a search of their cells.”

Has the Georgia Department of Corrections, in the wake of the inmate strike
of December 2010 embarked on a campaign of brutal retaliation against
inmates in its custody? Is the department deliberately withholding
medical treatment to prisoners its officers have viciously assaulted? Is
the removal of Smith Prison's former warden, and apparent demotion to
a superintendent of a probation facility connected with extensive
ongoing investigations into prison abuse and potential corruption? Have
the department's own internal affairs investigators turned a blind eye
to ongoing threats and beatings inflicted upon prisoners with the
apparent blessings of their supervisors, leaving investigations of these
allegations exclusively to the GBI? And is the Department of
Corrections preparing to go before a pliant southeast Georgia grand
jury, where prisons are one of the region's major industries, in the
hope of seeking pre-emptive indictments against prisoners to shield its
officers and supervisors from civil or criminal prosecution?

The questions around Georgia's Department of Corrections are piling up.
Some of the answers, as well as fuel for brand new questions, are in the
stream of correspondence and open records requests filed by
Mario Williams of Williams Oinonen LLC, attorney for several of the brutalized inmates.

From portions of that correspondence we know that on December 31, the day
after a team of citizen observers were admitted to Smith Prison to
interview staff and inmates, correctional officers singled out Miguel
Jackson and Kelvin Stevenson, handcuffing and savagely beating both
inmates after a search of their cells. Smith suffered multiple
indentations to his head, blunt trauma apparently inflicted with a
hammer-like object resulting in weeks of severe untreated pain. Georgia
Diagnostic officials placed Kelevin in max lock down with a broken jaw
that the officials knew needed to be wired, yet, waited nearly three
weeks to do so, and only wired Kelevin's jaw after repeated letters from
Mr. Stevenson's attorney to DOC officials requesting that immediate
action be taken. And it is clear that Miguel Jackson and Kelvin
Stevenson sustained these injuries not during the search, but only
after they had been removed in handcuffs from their cells.

We know that all the fruitful investigations and arrest warrants for
guards thus far were conducted and sworn out not by the Department of
Corrections' internal affairs officers, but by the Georgia Bureau of
Investigation. And we understand that the former warden at Smith State
prison has been inexplicably transferred and demoted.

We know that Kelvin Stevenson and Miguel Jackson were denied doctor
visits, urgently needed examinations and access to their own medical
records for weeks after the assault despite daily complaint of hearing
and memory problems, as well as problems with vision and other dangerous
symptoms. The correspondence also documents a series of dire and
terroristic threats made on multiple occasions by Jackson State
correctional officers. After his attorney's repeated complaints to Ricky
Myrick of DOC's Internal Investigations Unit, one of the guards making
said threats was finally transferred out of the wing, but no other
action was taken against him. The correctional officer continues to
incite other inmates against Miguel Jackson by spreading rumors that he
is a snitch.

by ex-offenders in Alabama, The Ordinary Peoples Society has worked
with prisoners, their families and communities for more than ten years
in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana.”

Over the last three months the attorney for the prisoner's families has had
to send a daily stream of letters, faxes, phone calls and document
requests, visits and other inquiries to uncover and address the denial
of medical care to the beaten prisoners, along with the facts of their
cases,” declared Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of
TOPS, The Ordinary Peoples Society.
“The Department of Corrections has dragged its feet at every
opportunity during this time. The fact that GBI has had to take charge
of investigating the vicious assaults of correctional officers and their
supervisors upon prisoners is a clear admission on the part of state
government that the Department of Corrections is unable or unwilling to
uphold the laws it's supposed to enforce.

So later this year TOPS is taking the lead in convening a series of public hearings throughout the
state in which we will examine the way Georgia's prisons operate, and
specifically look into the wave of beatings, retaliations and cover ups
that followed the inmate strike of December 2010.”

TOPS seems eminently qualified to lead such a public inquiry. In the decade
since its founding The Ordinary Peoples Society has stood with and for
prisoners, their families and communities in Florida, Georgia, Alabama
and Louisiana, both on the level of individual and collective self-help,
as well as advocacy on the level of public policy and public education.
TOPS is working closely with the attorney for the families of prisoners
Miguel Jackson, Kelvin Stevenson,
Terrance Dean, and other recent victims of unlawful violence on the part of Georgia correctional officers.

We found out about TOPS from talking to the families of other prisoners,”
Delma Jackson, the wife of Miguel Jackson told Black Agenda Report.
“They told us that TOPS would work with us and stand with us to get the
justice we need, both in prison and afterward. If there's no jobs or
education there's not much for those who come out of prison, no way for
them to support families and build new lives.”

Right now our prisons are making visitation and contact with families
unnecessarily difficult and expensive,” Rev. Glasgow told Black Agenda
Report. “DOC charges the families excessive amounts for phone calls out
of its prisons. It levies fines from inmate accounts --- from the money
sent by their families --- for a host of offenses, users fees, fines,
what have you, without any published schedule of fees or fines, and no
public transparency whatsoever. And we have allowed private, for profit
companies, which for all we know are big political contributors, to reap
millions a year from some of the state's poorest citizens --- those
with relatives in prisons --- off money transfers to inmates to and
phone calls from prisoners.”

When you add this to the lack of educational opportunities in and after
prison, there is ample reason for a year-long series of observer visits
and public hearings on how Georgia operates is prisons. One in thirteen
Gerogia adults is currently locked up or on paper,” concluded Glasgow.

That's a crime, and the public discussion on how to solve it cannot be led by
the people who gave us, and who profit from this dysfunctional system.
TOPS is committed to convening and facilitating real public hearings on
Georgia's prisons and their impact on our larger communities. That is a
discussion which cannot be held without the voices of the formerly
incarcerated, our families, and our communities being heard. TOPS and
our allies are committed to making that happen”

Bruce Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Marietta
GA where he is a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He
can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)

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