Federal and state authorities are still conducting an investigation over widespread reports of abuse and violence in various Georgia prisons. One case in particular focuses on an inmate, Terrance Dean, who was beaten while handcuffed on December 16, 2010 by seven prison guards at Macon State Prison and had to be hospitalized with life threatening injuries as a result.
The beating ensued after a fight broke out on December 16 between Dean and a guard during an inmate protest over better prison conditions. This resulted in an emergency response team being called in to diffuse the situation. However, after the officers broke up the fight they then handcuffed Dean and led him into the prison gymnasium where they allegedly beat him to the point where he fell into a coma.
Macon State Prison authorities also have been accused of covering up the incident after it happened. For example, Dean’s family was not notified by the Georgia Department of Corrections that Terrance was in the hospital until nearly two weeks after the assault occurred. The family initially found out what happened through an illegal cell phone call that came from inside the prison to Dean’s brother. And Dean’s mother did not get to actually visit her son until January of 2011.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) has pressed charges against the seven officers involved for aggravated battery. So far three of the seven guards have pleaded guilty to federal civil rights and conspiracy charges related to the beating of Dean and other inmates.
Dean is still suffering today from sustained brain injuries and physical problems as a result of this vicious beating. He has filed a federal lawsuit against the seven officers who assaulted him, along with their supervisors, who Dean says had direct knowledge of the incident.
Dean’s attorney, Mario Williams, has stated that he hopes the FBI’s inquiry closely examines what role senior officials at the prison had with respect to their simultaneous knowledge and more importantly, approval, of the beating.
Homicides and violence in Georgia prisons have reached an unprecedented level in recent years due to overcrowding and short staffing. The Southern Center for Human Rights filed a lawsuit in July of 2011 against the state of Georgia that also alleged systemic abuse by prison guards at Hays State Prison.
Prisoners do not forfeit their basic human rights while serving out their sentences, and abuse is a serious issue that occurs nationwide. Any prisoner who believes he or she has been a victim of abuse by a prison official can pursue legal recourse in both criminal and civil courts.