Overcrowded – Understaff Prisons: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

January 12th 2019
Written by Brother Ladarius Colbert 100145093

Greetings people of society, there is a statewide issue within the Georgia Department of Correction that continues to go underestimated and unattended. To guess many of you would think I’m referring to the gang epidemic or high rate of contraband within the walls of prison, all of which surrounds the criminalization of the offender. However, this article is more so focusing a more vital problem that not only affects the offender’s livelihood but the staff as well… Overcrowded prisons with staff shortages.

I arrived at Hays State Prison on February 16th 2016 on a disciplinary transfer; immediately upon arrival I notice the restricted movement at the camp. Outdoor exercise was rarely allowed and interaction between dorms were prohibited. I will admit, the strict movement had the camp atmosphere settled amongst the offenders but between us and the staff there exists a hostile vibe. Officers were always overly aggressive anytime we encountered one another and at a split action or sign of defiance cause for unlawful use of force.

I was confused at the “fear sowing” tactic because as stated earlier the violence level at the camp was moderate in comparison to the other facilities such as Valdosta, Telfair, and Smith State Prison. It wasn’t until I was placed on Tier 1 in E-1 cell 204, here is where I would find out the cause behind the above said insignificancies. The camp was understaff; like now, the offenders in segregation were deprived of a number of basic necessities. They receive infrequent cell sanitation; infrequent outdoor exercise; infrequent shower call-sometimes two times a week; and infrequent medical attention.

Often there would be one guard working an entire building that houses 128 offenders. On the same notation, but not as severe, general population is no different. The workload is overwhelming for the staff, where there has been numerous occasions where officers have spasm. Their irrational state can be results from lack of rest. Indenture labor, which consists of demeanful treatment, long hour hauls, seldom break periods, and occasional work on off days, has produce poor work ethics and ineffective response efforts to emergencies.

Inadequate security supervision: I am currently housed in a “pre-aggressor” dorm (C and D building). classification claims in a case of any form of an assault we will be the aggressor. Nonetheless, more than often our dorm floor officers are periodically stationed to work other work areas. There is hardly ever an officer available to attend to our concerns except for the control booth guard.

In consequence there has been a pattern of assaults in our dorm as well as others. In the segregation unit there has been a number of suicide attempts (some successful and gone unreported) and a vast of offender on offender assaults. Officers are unable to do consistent rounds because they are required to be in two different stations.

Medical illnesses / emergencies: medical illnesses go untreated and eventually worsen because of insufficient attention. If there is no escort officer available and unit manager McAllister is occupied you’re bound to miss your medical appointment. Friday – Sunday medical is shut except for urgent emergencies, pill call, and dialysis / diabetic check-up.

Education and access to courts – particularly in C and D Building we are subject to frequent setbacks in our litigation efforts and/or completing case plan program due to staff shortage. Many of those who are subject to such preventable disparity fail to meet certain time limitations and in case of the former are delayed relief and for the latter are denied pardonship for parole. On file it appears as the offender is being neglect to his assigned task, without notice or chance to provide an explanation they are shot down in their stride for equity or release.

Lately the education level has been high, reactionary transgression is motivated by capricious thinking. in an environment where the capacity level is 723 but the functioning level is around 1050 with so much animosity and little supervision, what do you think goes on? With the exception of a few, correction cannot be expected when your survival is at a high stake. Let’s not denote the provocative oppression used as an action to maintain submissive order. There are short-timers such as myself, medium/minimum-security offenders, nonviolent offenders, probationers/parole violators, and hardworking staff just to make ends meet inside an unsecured maximum security prison. People of society recognize the existing dangers and misrepresentation of this factor – Incarcerated lives matter too!

On the behalf of the Georgia offender population and the rightful staff who state of peonage goes unnoticed. Keep strong better days are to come.

All concerns and inquirements need to be sent to the following contacts. Your voice matters, make an effort to cause a positive change.

Questions and concern should be sent to the following people:

  1. Warden Sprayberry office number 706-857-0432 email Kevin.Sprayberry@gdc.ga.gov
  2. Commissioner 404-656-6002
  3. Facility director 404-655-2809