Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Protesters outside governor’s mansion demand Kemp take action against prison violence

Grant Blankenship/GPB News
Protesters were outside the Georgia Governor’s Mansion on Oct. 3, 2023 to bring attention to violence and other concerns in Georgia’s prisons. One protester carries a photo of Stephanie Widener, who died of sepsis in Georgia Department of Corrections custody.

About 100 people with loved ones incarcerated in Georgia prisons protested outside the Georgia Governor’s Mansion Tuesday to demand Gov. Brian Kemp take action against prison violence.

Protesters were kept about 100 yards away from the neoclassical columns of the mansion in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood.

Carrie Proffitt carried a poster board photo collage of her son, who died in prison. She said the Georgia Department of Corrections has a staffing problem.

“They don’t have enough guards,” she said. “They keep all the housing units unlocked.”

She believes that led to her son being assaulted. The lack of guards posed a different danger when he was placed in what was supposed to be a safe cell of his own.  

“They were supposed to check on him every 15 minutes, first thing,” she said. 

That’s part of what’s called “doing checks” in a prison. Proffitt said guards in her son’s prison didn’t do checks. 

“And he died May 6 of this year,” she said.

According to GDC, Proffitt’s son took his own life, one of 28 suicides in Georgia prisons through the end of August this year. Proffitt has her doubts as to the real cause of death.

Reshanda Russell traveled from Detroit to protest on behalf of her son, who she said files formal grievances with GDC when he feels threatened. She said those filings go nowhere.

Nobody wants to help you,” she said. “Not even an attorney. They’re scared!

As a result, Russell said, violations of inmates’ civil rights are ignored until it’s far too late.

“My son has to be dead — I mean, forgive me, but he has to be gone in order to get help,” she said. “And that’s not fair. It’s not fair at all.”

September marked two years of a federal Department of Justice civil rights investigation into Georgia prison conditions.  

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