Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Georgia Prison Inmate Strike Ends; But Inmates Remain in ‘Power & Control’ of Prison

Hundreds of inmates in Georgia whose interesting unity among themselves transpired into an inmate strike were back in their cells as of Friday, leaving executives to mourn the public relations crisis and express thanks that things didn’t turn out worse. However, inmates warn officials: “History will long remember this moment! The revolution will soon strike.”

“Although Roger State Prison houses some of Georgia’s most dangerous prisoners, many of the cell doors at the prison do not work,” a relative of a current inmate at Roger State Prison told Your Content under the condition of anonymity.

The uproar ignited at Georgia’s primary maximum security facility, Roger State Prison, located in unincorporated Tattnall County outside of Reidsville. It’s deemed one of the toughest, meanest maximum-security hellholes ever built – behind electrified barbed wire fences and housing some of the Georgia’s most infamous inmates. 

 

According to an audit conducted by state officials, close security prisoners are routinely free to wonder the prison corridors at any time of day or night, even when cells are supposed to be locked. 

“State corrections officials have been unable or unwilling to address the epidemic of violence in Georgia prisons,” said Southern Center for Human Rights Senior Attorney, Sarah Geraghty. “You simply don’t see this level of violence and brutality in a well-run system.”

In a protest apparently assembled largely through a network of cellphones, inmates at Roger State Prison went on strike on Jan. 10, 2020, calling for better conditions, working cell door locks and compensation, several inmates and a source at the Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office revealed. 


Although Roger State Prison houses some of Georgia’s most dangerous prisoners, many of the cell doors at the prison do not work

At one point, inmates claim to have eaten a live bird due to the hunger issues surrounding the facility. Others used an array of weapons, such as mop and broom handles, in an apparent effort to maintain order. 

“The United States calls itself the country of liberty, the land of opportunity, the defender of human rights and the refuge for people oppressed by their governments. All that ends once you’re detained,” a 22-year-old inmate who goes by Pigeon told Your Content. “We want our freedom to fight our cases freely and leave this hell.” Pigeon dubbed the prison a “Cemetery of living men.”

Georgia Prison Inmate Strike Ends; But Inmates Remain in 'Power & Control' of Prison
📸: Inmate Tigga from Roger State Prison for Your Content

“Yeah, we committed the crime, we’re here for a reason,” said a 42-year-old inmate at Roger State Prison, who refused to give his name because he was speaking on a prohibited cellphone. But, he said, “But at the same time we’re human. We aren’t asking for a bed and breakfast type deal; damn, we’d settle for Guantanamo Bay. At least they have food and locks!”

Meanwhile, the facility’s employees at once tried to maintain order and take cover. County and state authorities were on site within an hour to maintain the perimeter and help the Department of Corrections bring the situation under control, according to the inmate, who noted that several state agencies were also there. It is unclear when the strike begun, but inmates first made contact with Your Content on Jan. 10. 

“The Department of Corrections outlined an extreme plan to bring down what they see as a corrupt inmate ruling lead by inmate-elected interim Warden Tigga,” a third inmate told Your Content via Facetime Thursday. He refused to be named, but noted he’s known as ‘Slatch.’


Men in prisons across Georgia have easy access to cell phones and even smart phones that are smuggled in by prison staff or dropped inside prison perimeter fences.

Southern Center for Human Rights

Several inmates, who used cellphones to call Your Content from their prison cells, said they found out about the protest from text messages. What’s more, inmates were notified about “Tigga” being elected interim Warden via Facebook.   

“They have threatened to hold us all in the hole until guards sniff out each phone,” said a fourth inmate, who also refused to give his name. “The most advanced weapon we have is the mobile phone and let me tell you something – it’s going to go down in history as the ‘Prison Tsunami.’ 


Regular access to power outlets cannot be accomplished without some acquiescence by correctional security staff

Southern Center for Human Rights

“Once everyone at the other facilities we are in talks with activates their phone, we will then decide how to peacefully resolve this dilemma without having to involve the outside reinforcements.”

According to the inmate courtier, they have mobilized activity at Augusta, Baldwin, Calhoun, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Rogers, Smith, Telfair, Valdosta, and Ware state prisons. 

The combined population exceeds 16,000 inmates out of a state-total 53,064. Inmates from Roger State Prison claim to have made contact with at-least 12,000 inmates at those facilities. 

“They’re determined to find out if Tigga bribed the inmates to use their influence to help broker a ritzy deal with his rivalries and other powerful inmates in his perverted fantasy,” a fifth but angry inmate who refused to provide a name told Your Content. “There are always guys like ‘Tigga’ wishing to trade favors for a bit of prison glamour.”

“There is no question the inmates – and interim Warden Tigga himself – are under siege. The DOC is getting desperate for a victory after we organized a better structure for the sh–hole they call a prison,” a sixth inmate penned in an email message to Your Content Friday.

“He was always coming up with schemes to make money. He has no money himself, but his inner-circle is worth thousands.”

Several Georgia prisons remain on lockdown as officials attempt to reassert control in the prison system by tracking down thousands of “illegal cellphones” smuggled in by staff and inmates. 

“Men in prisons across Georgia have easy access to cell phones and even smart phones that are smuggled in by prison staff or dropped inside prison perimeter fences,” a study by Southern Center for Human Rights reads. “Their nearly ubiquitous presence inside Georgia prisons signals a colossal failure in security.

“Not only are cell phones smuggled into prison, but prisoners are able to keep them functional by charging and re-charging them. Regular access to power outlets cannot be accomplished without some acquiescence by correctional security staff.”

The fed-up inmates’ erratic behavior comes on the heels of our exclusive report about The GEO Group’s inhumane prison conditions.

Your Content also reached out to the Georgia Department of Corrections and The GEO Group seeking comment days ago, but we didn’t hear back by the time of publication.

The last two weeks have witnessed a series of troubling allegations from prison inmates and former staff who long held their tongues for fear of retribution of their career, or retaliation. But the conditions became too harsh for them to remain silent. Among those revelations: 


This is an ongoing investigative special. Stay with yc.news for the latest updates. Have a story or news tip? Contact our 24/7 newsroom at 833.336.8013 or e-mail our tip line: [email protected]

Jonathan Riches » for Your Content
Jonathan Riches » for Your Content
Jonathan Riches is a Chief Investigative Correspondent & Justice Editor for Your Content. He is best known for his writings about prison reform and culture, including the social media scandal dubbed the ‘Feeling Cute Challenge' that shook the department of corrections to its core.

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