Current GA Prison News


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

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

By Bruce A. Dixon

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

“ ...correctional 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.

“ Founded 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 [8]. “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 [10], 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.”

Read the rest here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sumter: No more business-as-we-know-it for Probation Profiteers.

And the follow-up to the 2008 Mother Jones article on for-profit probation in Georgia.


Monday, March 22, 2010 at at 7:40 PM by Dan

Thanks to the efforts of numerous groups including the Georgia Citizens' Coalition on Hunger, the Americus and Sumter Branches of the NAACP, and the Southern Center for Human Rights, private probation has been kicked out of Sumter County, Georgia. For background on private probation, check out this 2008 Mother Jones article. Details on the victory are below care of The AmericUSumter Observer.

Through many prayers, tireless efforts from Georgia Citizens' Coalition on Hunger, represented by Director, Minister Sandra Roberson, NUBIA Grand Hierophant Mr. Eugene Edge, and the Americus and Sumter County Branch of the NAACP, represented by President Matt Wright and his staff, private probation as we know it will no longer exist in Americus and Sumter County, Georgia. The pleasant winds of change that were championed by Judge Rucker Smith and the Sumter County Commissioners, produced a landmark decision to do away with private probation in Americus and Sumter County.

We spoke with one of the commissioners and were told that after the NAACP, and the other organizations met with the Americus City Council with complaints from citizens, some on probation and the unified front of organizations against private probation, the decision was made to remove the last private probation office. Final details have not been completely worked out, but we do expect private probation to be long-gone from our County and City no later than April 01, 2010.

NAACP President Matt Wright stated that "he was overwhelmed by the sudden move toward justice. I expected this to eventually come to pass, but not this soon." Wright also expressed thanks to organizers Anginette Dodson, Minister Linda Wright, Assistant Police Chief Nelson Brown, Colonel Eric Bryant, other volunteers and the probationers who were not afraid to stand-up for their rights afforded to them by the U.S. Constitution. President Wright also noted that there could be a possible problem with the Judge who presides over City Court and that he and organizational partners are getting ready to set up a meeting with the Judge to pursue the issues. Wright said that Minister Robertson said she and her organization were very pleased, and that Sumter County was the only area that she knew of in the state of Georgia that has successfully won the probation fight against private probation companies.

Grand Hierophant, Edge said that, "the effort was a continued struggle for us at the office and those who were probationers in the county. I am reminded of a saying from a great African proverb, "A life of ease will sometimes allow us to forget struggle; therefore we must always be reminded of what it took to establish justice for the probationers." Wright closed by saying, "there is nothing better than swift justice." The first private probation company in Americus, Middle Georgia Probation, was run out with the help of the Law Office of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, GA. Kori Chen, one of the organizers, assisted our local NAACP and the other organizations in removing Middle Georgia Probation. We are so very appreciative of their dedicated service to so many communities in Georgia, says President Wright.

Probation Profiteers in Georgia.

An oldie but goodie from Mother Jones -


Probation Profiteers


In Georgia's outsourced justice system, a traffic ticket can land you deep in the hole.

Free the Newborn! Stop Georgia's shackling of prisoners in labor.

This is barbarism almost all of us are still guilty of. Please sign the petition to end it today.

Help us ban the practice of shackling of incarcerated women during transport, labor, delivery and recovery in Georgia jails and prisons

Georgia is one of forty-four states that permits the shackling of incarcerated women during the birthing and laboring processes. Over the last few years, several states (IL, VT, CA, TX, NY and NM) have determined that this practice is not only unnecessary, but also cruel and inhumane and have prohibited it through statute. In 2008, the Federal Bureau of Prisons prohibited the practice in federal prisons after considerable lobbying from a broad range of prison advocacy, medical professional associations and civil liberties and women’s rights groups. More recently, the 8th District Court of Appeals held that the U.S. Constitution protects pregnant women in prison from the unnecessary and unsafe practice of shackling during labor and childbirth.” In addition, the practice of shackling incarcerated women during labor, delivery and recovery violates international human rights standards and norms.

Clearly, the time to end this practice in Georgia is upon us. How many more women will labor in pain, silence, obscurity and shame? It is indeed a cruel, inhumane and unsafe to force women to endure the laboring and birthing process with chains on their wrists and ankles.

Please sign the petition calling for an end to this heinous and unsafe practice.


The Brown Codes of Georgia: Black Agenda Report

This is really quite disturbing, how Arizona has become a source of toxic legislation to the rest of the nation. Sorry, folks.


Georgia: The Next Show Me Your Papers State?
By Bruce A. Dixon
Created 03/16/2011 - 11:59
Submitted by Bruce A. Dixon on Wed, 03/16/2011 - 11:59

If some racist Georgia politicians have their way, Georgia will be the next “show me your papers” state. Legislation has already passed in the GA House that will criminalize the everyday activity of undocumented persons, further isolate and stigmatize them, and allow any yahoo with a computer and legal forms standing to sue police departments, judges, city and state officials and agencies who fail to enforce these laws with sufficient rigor and viciousness. Sign the petition demanding GA governor Nathan Deal veto Georgia's proposed Brown Codes, and your signature will be presented to the governor's office on March 24, Georgia's Day of Truth & Dignity.

Last week Georgia's House of Representatives passed a package of laws that so out-does Arizona's B 1070 for racist meanness and overreach that some are calling them the Brown Codes [8], after the post-Civil War Black Codes [9] of the 19th century. Like their namesakes, the new Brown Codes are designed to stigmatize, isolate and criminalize an entire community. But while 19th century laws could be written to specifically apply to former slaves, Africans, descendants of Africans, and anybody with visible African heritage, 21st century custom obliges even the most blatant apartheid laws to maintain a veneer of color blindness in their language, while their application and results are carefully calculated to single out targeted communities.

1. Georgia's proposed Brown Codes [8] write the racist slur “illegal aliens [10]” into state law;

In the spirit of racist American white nationalism, Georgia's Brown Codes create a class of person it calls --- specifically in the legislation --- “illegal aliens [10].” This is exactly the same as tacking some degrading adjective onto the n-word, and writing that racist calumny into state law. As we and many others have said elsewhere, the term “illegal aliens [10]” is a dehumanizing and racist slur, the kind of thing civilized people should not allow friends, enemies, or total stragers to utter in their hearing without fear of reproach or correction.

The purposeful logic of the “illegal alien” slur is to deprive targeted people of their humanity, to declare them “aliens” rather than humans, so that they can be made “illegal.” After all, even the most racist American xonophobes sometimes find it hard to make their mouths say “illegal person” or 'illegal humans.” But now, under Georgia's Brown Codes, humans unable to prove their immigration status to a doctor before treatment, to a school official upon enrollment, to a taxi driver on the way to work, or to a law enforcement officer for any reason or no reason at all are to stripped of their human rights because they are no longer humans. They become what the legislation specifically calls “illegal aliens,” the legal prey of citizens and bereft of most of the rights of humans.

2. Georgia's proposed Brown Codes [8] create a series of new, immigration-related felonies;

Look for a job, go to jail!

UnderGeorgia's proposed Brown Codes, applying for a job with a false ID will become a felony punishable by one to five years in prison for the first offense, and three to twenty years in prison for the second offense. If the name or social security number on the ID is that of an actual person, living or dead it becomes “aggravated identity fraud”, a one to ten year stretch the first offense and a three to fifteen for each additional count. The law further specifies that sentences for these offenses may not run concurrently with each other or with any other sentence, that they can only run consecutively. Take that, Arizona!

Give somebody a ride, go to jail!

Giving an undocumented person a ride to a job or to anyplace that furthers a job search will be a misdemeanor for the first offense, and a one to five year felony for subsequent offenses. Taking eight or more such persons at a time into a vehicle for the purpose of working or seeking work will be a one to five year felony for the first offense. Again, no concurrent sentences, only consecutive ones. The only exceptions the law allows are government officials transporting the undocumented to or between courts and jails and administrative proceedings. Taxi and bus drivers, beware!

“Harboring” an undocumented person? Go to jail!

Here's what the Brown Codes [8] say...

“'Harboring' or 'harbors' means any conduct that tends to substantially help an illegal alien to remain in the United States in violation of federal law...including any building or means of transportation, when such person knows that the person being concealed, harbored, or shielded is an illegal alien, shall be guilty of the offense of concealing or harboring an illegal alien...”

“Harbor” seven or fewer, and your first offense? A misdemeanor, with up to a year sentence. Second and subsequent offenses are one to five felonies. More than seven? Accepting money for this favor, or making a profit? Felony, one to five for the first offense.

There are several more new felonies, but you get the idea. Arizona's got nothing on Georgia cracker bile and meanness. If Arizona's racist Sheriff Joe does run for the U.S. Senate, as he is rumored to be doing, if he makes it to DC, he'll have some like-minded colleagues to caucus with from here. Maybe we can show him how it's really done.

3. Under Georgia's proposed Brown Codes [8], all law enforcement officers on contact with any inhabitant of the state will be required to make a “reasonable effort” to ascertain that person's immigration status

It might be as simple as a glance during a traffic stop. Buffy and Ken don't look like immigrants. Jose and Hilda? That's another matter. They might have to answer a question, show some paper. Before the Brown Codes, law enforcement officers were not required to make a “reasonable effort” to determine status unless the person was in custody for a serious offense, such as a felony. Under the Brown Codes, anybody within sight of a law enforcement officer may be questioned and required to prove citizenship or legal status, for any reason or no reason. Take that, Sheriff Joe!

4. Georgia's proposed Brown Codes [8] enable & encourage any and everybody to sue and recover damages from and force compliance on the part of any state official, judge or body of local government that fails to enforce the Brown Codes with sufficient rigor.

This is Georgia. Our jails are not full enough and our courts ain't all that busy. You still can't sue corporations that poison your air or water, or that sell you murderously unsafe products, deceptive insurance or financial instruments or the like. Class action? Forget about it. Free discovery? You must be dreaming. That is, unless you imagine a local police department isn't investigating and rounding up immigrants fast enough, or a judge isn't sentencing them long enough, or the principal of your child's school or your local hospital has allowed a few to slip past its checkpoints....

Georgia's new Brown Codes will give any yahoo with a computer and some legal forms free discovery and the legal standing to sue to force compliance on the part of and recover damages from any judge, sheriff, police department, city, county or state official or subdivision of state or local government for failing to enforce its provisions with sufficient rigor and viciousness. Georgia will lend its courts and judicial system to any yahoo that wants to ratchet enforcement up a notch.

Who says the South isn't different? And where are the Democrats on this?

While Democrats in Georgia' House, who are almost all black outside metro Atlanta, voted against the measures, and a few made impassioned speeches from the state house floor, none conducted public hearings in their own communities, especially black communities, to inform them of the provisions of the new Brown Codes. Georgia's leading Democrats are like that. Lots of talk, relatively little action, practically no effort to educate the public.

Nationally, the immigrant community supported President Obama and Democrats overwhelmingly the last several elections, and has little to show for it. Deportations however, are at an all time high under President Obama. The president did issue a tepid sort of condemnation of Arizona's notorious anti-immigrant law. We hope he does at least that much for Georgia, but we aren't counting on it. Locally the black mayor of Atlanta, while he was a leading Democratic state senator, sponsored legislation that would have made it a felony to look for a job with a fake ID back in 2006 [11]. So even if Dems are voting against this stuff this time, counting on the Democratic establishment to effectively oppose this kind of thing is, well... unwise.


Georgia's immigrant communities have declared that March 24 in Atlanta and statewide will be a Day of Dignity, during which all are asked to assemble at the state capital and make visible our demands to honor the humanity of all peoples, to oppose the racist assaults on immigrants unde cover of state law. The Georgia Green Party, of which in full disclosure I am a state committee member warmly endorses the Day of Dignity, as probably do many Democrats, as individuals, at least.

Please sign the petition [12] asking Governor Nathan Deal not to out-do Arizona in its demonstration of racist meanness. It's unworthy of all of us. We will present hard copy of the signatures to the governor's representatives on March 24, only a few days away. Those who sign and mark the “contact me” box will receive a follow-up note with stills or video of the presentation of their signatures to the governor's office by month's end.

So click here and sign now [12], especially if you live in Georgia. We don't want Georgia to be the next “show me your papers” state. Thank you.

Bruce Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Marietta GA. He's also a member of the state committee fo the Georgia Green Party, and reachable at bruce.dixon(at)

Resist HB87: Rally for Truth and Migrant Justice!

GSU Progressive Student Alliance on Red Dog and Queers.

Some Analysis on Atlanta Police Brutality & Queer People

Organize the South Blog

Posted On Thursday, September 24, 2009 at at 9:46 AM by Dan  
This was sent out by GSU Progressive Student Alliance (PSA). I don't know if it was previously published though.

Not quite Stonewall: 40 years later the cops haven't changed, but we have
By Giselda

"Hey, Red Dog: Bored with Grandmothers?" Those words, scribbled with marker on a makeshift sign, lingered above a crowd mostly confused by their meaning. Who was Red Dog and what grandmother? In other communities in Atlanta, away from the gentrifying "gayborhoods" of Midtown, that sign could probably escape any need for clarification. This wasn't southwest Atlanta, though. The rally was gathered behind a leather gay bar, the crowd predominately middle-aged gay white men.

The circumstances behind the rally shouldn't have been a shock to the attendees. Nights before, officers of the Atlanta Police Department, with participation from the particularly brutal Red Dog Narcotics Unit, entered The Atlanta Eagle bar, apparently tipped off by complaints ranging from drug use to public or solicited sex. Around 62 patrons and staff were forced on the ground for an hour, many handcuffed, and searched by cops freely uttering homophobic and racist remarks.

Unfortunately for the APD, no weapons or drugs were found on anybody, forcing them to resort to Plan B - confiscating IDs and running a background check for potential outstanding warrants. Here, also, the APD struck out, so the patrol cars and paddy wagons left mostly empty, with the exception of The Eagle's staff, who were arrested for only wearing underwear. The officers charged the employees with stripping unlicensed (it was "underwear" night at the bar, but the act of actually stripping seems like a desperate stretch by the APD).

Fortunately, a reporter from Atlanta Progressive News was on scene to break the story, and by afternoon time the next day many Atlanta area queers (at least in the limited demographic world of facebook) opened up various internet accounts to find some sort of reference to the raid and growing outrage. It was Stonewall all over again, many cried. The national publication The Advocate ran the story alongside constant coverage from Atlanta's smaller news outlets (the major Atlanta paper, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, was skittish), and solidarity actions in Atlanta were quickly planned, the largest being the rally behind the bar which was attended by hundreds.

For many of us, especially queer radicals, the story and immediate growing reaction was full of promise. This could be a chance to realize a queer agenda beyond marriage, and one that could help build unity between the queer community and other communities that traditionally face police brutality (in Atlanta, those communities are overwhelmingly black and poor). It would also be a chance to build unity, or at least secure an acknowledgment, to those within the queer community to which these events aren't at all shocking but rather routine - queers of color, transgendered people (particularly homeless), even men in the leather scene.

Those that do not look like, or share the vision of, the gay movers and shakers who attend the banquets of The Human Rights Campaign or Georgia Equality (both, not surprisingly, missing from the rally). Those queers whose reality more closely parallels straight black men indiscriminately stopped, searched and even shot unarmed by officers of the APD and their most uncontrollable unit, Red Dog, than the reality of gays rushing out of an expensive Midtown townhouse to catch the neighborhood association meeting and help decide how many more "undesirable" crime committing elements should be removed to help make the neighborhood safer and more profitable for its white newcomers.

The story had a lot of other political promise, as well. Atlanta's electoral atmosphere leading up to November's elections has basically boiled down to two things - I love the cops and can bring more into the city and I love the cops and can bring even more than your more. Public safety is on everyone's lips. The grandmother the sign at the rally was referring to, Kathryn Johnston - a 92 year old woman gunned down by Red Dog Narcotic Unit cops - was all but forgotten by white Atlanta as publications and neighborhood groups rushed to secure more cops, now, at any price.

Ironically, the man at the head of this movement of white panic, Kyle Keyser, is gay, and was the only mayoral candidate to address the crowd at the rally, shedding his usual rhetoric of more cops with little oversight - instead timidly asking for answers from the force for this one event. The raid on The Eagle suddenly became a useful tool, not only to funnel a new, angry crowd into a movement for police accountability but also to put local political candidates in a position where they may have to condemn police conduct instead of lavishing praise on the force and promising hundreds more on our streets if they're elected. Considering the growing influence of mostly white, middle-class gay Atlanta from gentrifying neighborhoods local candidates may find themselves in a bit of a dilemma - condemn the raid and risk having an anti-police quote used by competitors in the pro-police frenzy that is white, middle/upper class Atlanta voting or stay as neutral as possible on the subject and risk the fury of gay voters?

Hopes for an unleashed queer fury, not quite Stonewall but not quite HRC, were quickly dimmed by the organizers of the rally, however. Messages were sent out on facebook reminding potential attendees that this was not a protest against the APD - in which we supposedly have queer allies - but rather one in support of gay establishments. Any suggestion that the protest actually happen at the police department was scuttled. People spread solidarity messages around facebook, referencing how similar this felt to being gay in '69 rather than black in '09. This shouldn't happen to us, this hasn't happened to us lately. An eery, subtle message being relayed through many such expressions was on display more explicitly by signs at the rally - how dare you treat us like THEM. Signs that kept asking the PD why they would target The Eagle rather than gangs, drug-pushers and muggers. "Who made this call?", one sign asked, placing The Eagle on one side of a seesaw and various street crimes piled up on the other. We're law-abiding citizens, many said, and I never thought I'd see this again.

Where are we looking that we don't see it, exactly? Not in the overcrowded jails of the APD, where arrests are brought in mass after a Red Dog Unit raid or traffic block. We're not looking, apparently, in the face of Tremaine Miller and hundreds like him, shot unarmed by Atlanta cops throughout the years with little protest or rallies. In the signs of the rally that asked for an apology, the speakers who assured the crowds most cops are good and this is an oddity, all who came out once this year and maybe once in a decade to ask why this happened and how do we get answers to this one event the message was unintentionally, unknowingly chilling - this doesn't happen all the time.

But it does, and will continue to. The question now is what sort of reaction should the Atlanta queer community have? Should it be one that seeks answers to one event, maybe even forces some empty political statements and press release apology? Should it be a movement to solely stand in solidarity with gay establishments?

Or should we consider longer term accountability for cops, not just when they attack our community but when they attack all, and work towards strengthening the Citizen Review Board and fighting for any oversight and justice we can for the Atlanta PD? Should we consider that sign, referencing Kathryn Johnston, almost out of place at the rally - "Hey Red Dog: Bored with (African-American) Grandmothers?" Perhaps in that sign there was an ability to make a connection and more wisdom than any commentary from the self-appointed, bourgeois heads of gay advocacy and their white, middle-class allies can actualize.

For background information:

 Facebook Group Atlanta Eagle Raid

Queers and Cops: The Atlanta PD goes to school.

Atlanta police undergo LGBT training
The GA Voice
March 18, 2011 00:00
by Dyana Bagby 
Atlanta Police Department LGBT Liaisons Officers Brian Sharp and Patricia Powell

For the first time in the history of the Atlanta Police Department, the nearly 2,000 officers and civilian employees are undergoing training on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues as part of a mandatory course announced by Chief George Turner.

Turner and the entire command staff of approximately 30 people underwent the one-hour classroom training in December, taught by LGBT liaison Officer Brian Sharp. Now Sharp and Senior Patrol Officer Patricia Powell, the other LGBT liaison for the department, are teaching the class to everyone else employed by the department; the trainings will continue through May.

Recruits will also receive the training and the class will be taught once a year to all employees as a way for the department to garner better understanding and build a relationship with Atlanta’s LGBT residents.

“I think the training is a great first step,” said Glen Paul Freedman, chair of the APD’s LGBT advisory group. “Before, this was not mandatory other than a class taught only to recruits about the LGBT liaison’s role.”

Officer Sharp, in past meetings with the LGBT advisory group, said the trainings are going well with APD employees.

“I’m glad it was received the way it was. The chief has been supportive and wanted the training,” Sharp told LGBT advisory group members at their Jan. 31 meeting.

“This is where the rubber meets the road,” Sharp said of training the department on LGBT issues.

Training gives ‘better understanding’

The GA Voice requested and received a copy of the Power Point presentation and the lesson plan being taught to the officers and employees.

The lesson plan includes this opening statement:

“As a member of the Atlanta police we work in a large metropolitan city with an estimated population of over 5 million people. Our police force is made up of over 1,800 diverse men and woman from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds. In addition the city of Atlanta has one of the largest gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender populations in the United States.

“That being said it is inevitable that at some point in your career as a police officer you will be called upon to deal with one of these individuals in the course of your duties. It may be a citizen in the community or it could possibly be a coworker. The purpose of the block of instruction is to outline departmental policy and procedures that must be followed in these encounters as well as give you a better understanding of the GLBT community and the citizens who make up this community.

“It is vital that every officer conduct themselves in manner that protects the rights of all individual as well as preserves the safety of the community in which we serve. An officer who is knowledgeable and confident in their abilities can demonstrate professionalism and earn the respect of both the citizens as well as coworkers.”

The training includes a brief history of Stonewall, the 1969 riot that is marked as the beginning of the modern day gay civil rights movement, and also gives explanations of why LGBT people often don’t trust the police:

• GLBT individuals were often victims of harassment from local law enforcement agencies.

• GLBT individuals were often denied jobs and often fired from jobs because they were suspected homosexuals.

• GLBT individuals often had their names placed on lists of suspected homosexuals and in some cases monitored by the FBI and US Post Office.

• GLBT individuals were often labeled as having a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association.

Offensive word ‘transvestite’ included

The training also includes definitions of words such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and also intersex. Included in these definitions is the outdated word “transvestite” as:
“Someone who dresses in clothing generally identified with the opposite gender/sex. While the terms ‘homosexual’ and ‘transvestite’ have been used synonymously, they are in fact signify two different groups. The majority of transvestites are heterosexual males who derive pleasure from dressing in “women’s clothing”. (The preferred term is ‘cross-dresser,’ but the term ‘transvestite’ is still used in a positive sense in England.)

Transvestite has been deemed offensive by many LGBT organizations, including the Gay & Lesbian Association Against Defamation.

Carlos Campos, spokesperson for the APD, said in an email that the word “transvestite” was included in the training to teach officers a word not to be used.

However, there is no indication in the materials that the word is off limits.

Freedman said the training materials continue to be revised to add new information and take out old information, including the word “transvestite.”

“The APD is learning about LGBT issues … our history, correct terms. As a first step, this training is an ever-living document and always changing,” he said. “And now there is training on words that shouldn’t be used.”

As for the word “transvestite,” Freedman said he doesn’t fault the APD and that this example provides an opportunity to update the materials for officers.

“We’re helping educate each other on the use of terms people feel more comfortable with and no one is offended by, especially within the transgender community,” Freedman said. “I think gender identity will become a lot more of the training.”

But Freedman said a misstep should not cancel out the good the training is providing.
“We have a course that is being taught by a gay man and a lesbian and the chief saying everyone will take the class,” he said.

“To go from nothing before to having this is a big step forward.”

Top photo: Atlanta Police LGBT Liaison Officers Brian Sharp and Patricia Powell teach the new class on LGBT issues that is mandatory for all police employees. (by Bo Shell)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

DEA seizes key execution drug in GA

From: Facebook: Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty


There has been a major development regarding Georgia’s death penalty. Earlier today, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) arrived at the Georgia Department of Corrections and confiscated their supply of sodium thiopental, one of the three drugs used in Georgia’s lethal injection procedure. This development comes in the wake of a series of litigation that identified Georgia procured its supply of the drug from a fly-by-night shop located in the back of a driving school in England. These black market drugs were used to carry out the executions of Georgians Brandon Rhode and Emmanuel Hammond. Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty members have repeatedly spoken out about our concerns about Georgia using such shady drugs while taken a person’s life.

This story has national significance, as there has been a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental that started in 2010 leaving many other states in similar positions to Georgia. In the coming days we hope to learn what the impact of today’s action by the DEA will mean for Georgia and the rest of the country. We will keep you posted.

Below is more information from the Associated Press.

With hope,

Sara and Kathryn

APNewsBreak: DEA seizes key execution drug in Ga.
© 2011 The Associated Press

March 15, 2011, 7:53PM

ATLANTA — The Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday seized Georgia's supply of a key lethal injection drug less than two months after the state executed a man who unsuccessfully argued it was bought from a "fly-by-night" supplier in England.

Agency spokesman Chuvalo Truesdell wouldn't elaborate on exactly why the DEA wanted to inspect Georgia's supply of sodium thiopental, a sedative that is part of a three-drug cocktail used in executions that has been in short supply since the sole U.S. manufacturer stopped making it.

"We had questions about how the drug was imported to the U.S.," he said. "There were concerns."

No more execution dates in Georgia have been scheduled and it's unlikely any will be set before the issue is resolved. Georgia Attorney General's Office spokeswoman Lauren Kane said prosecutors couldn't ask a judge to set executions if corrections officials didn't have the necessary supplies to carry one out.

Georgia's stockpile of the drug has been a target of death row inmates and capital punishment critics because corrections officials released documents this year showing the state obtained the drug from Link Pharmaceuticals, a firm purchased five years ago by Archimedes Pharma Limited. Both are British firms.

The drug was used in January to execute Emmanuel Hammond, 45-year-old man convicted for the 1988 shotgun slaying of an Atlanta preschool teacher. His attorneys sought a delay to gather more information on how the state obtained the drug, claiming in court documents it came from a "fly-by-night supplier operating from the back of a driving school in England." They said the drug could have been counterfeit.

The U.S. Supreme Court, as well as lower courts, rejected Hammond's argument.

Joan Heath, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Corrections, said state officials were not concerned with the quality of the drug.

"We contacted the DEA and asked them for a regulatory review, and that's what we're doing," she said. "We're going to make sure we're in regulatory compliance with the DEA over how we handle controlled substances."

Hammond's attorney, Brian Mendelsohn, declined to comment.

The most recent complaint was filed by Roy Willard Blankenship, a death row inmate who in February wanted a judge to call off his execution until the state released more details of its 20-gram supply of sodium thiopental. The complaint contended that an expired drug may not fully put Blankenship to sleep — which could make his death extremely painful.

Link Pharmaceuticals didn't exist in 2010, and its name hasn't been on labels since May 2007, the lawsuit said. Sodium thiopental typically has a shelf life of four years, meaning even the state's newest supply would expire in May of this year, the lawsuit claims.

A federal judge rejected Blankenship's arguments as "nothing more than unreasonable speculation." He added that even if Blankenship could prove the supply expired, he failed to show it "creates a risk that is sure or very likely to cause serious illness or needless suffering."

The shortage has delayed executions in several states and an Associated Press review found that at least five states — Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia and Tennessee — had to turn to England for their supply of the drug. Nebraska, meanwhile, secured a stockpile from an Indian firm.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

All eyes on Shawn Whatley...

Help us out here, folks, if you're hitting this post. The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division's Special Litigation Section is responsible for investigating abusive patterns and practices in state prisons under the Civil Rights for Institutionalized Persons Act. Some of the rights violations that the prisoners were striking over and retaliation against activists are institutionalized a bad patterns and practices that need to be CRIPAed. 

Contact them here: 

Johnathan M. Smith, Chief
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division - Special Litigation
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. - 
Washington, D.C. 20530

(202) 514-6255
toll-free at (877) 218-5228
FAX - (202) 514-0212
Alt. FAX - (202) 514-6273
Email -

You can also complain to Georgia state officials about Shawn's treatment here; and below:

Brian Owens, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections
  • Call: 478-992-5258 (This is the number for Owens’ administrative assistant Peggy Chapman. Urge her to give him the message.)
  • Call: 478-992-5367 (This is the Office of the Ombudsman, which is the official channel for raising concerns over prisoner treatment)

Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia

  • Call: 404-656-1776
  • Send the Governor a letter online by clicking here.
Letters can also be mailed or faxed:
Office of the Governor Nathan Deal, State of Georgia
203 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
Fax: 404-657-7332 

In the meantime, the let the Georgia Department of Corrections know we're watching what's happening to Shawn by writing to him and telling him that ourselves. He's doing life in there and facing heavy fire, so try to stick with him if you start something or they'll be on him as soon as the mail lets up again... 

Here he is:

GA D&C Prison


Immediate Justice and Human Rights for Georgia State Prisoner Shawn Whatley!
Mar 1, 2011
Eljeer Hawkins, Bronx, New York
“My life is in Imminent Danger” - Shawn Whatley, 2/10/2011

Since the brutal attack on Shawn Whatley by Telfair state prison guards, on January 12, 2011 Socialist Alternative/CWI launched a solidarity campaign to defend and highlight the case of Shawn Whatley and Georgia prison strike activists. But the life of Shawn Whatley still hangs in the balance along with countless others.

Shawn Whatley as of today (3/1/11) is being held at Jackson state prison. On February 1, 2011 Shawn Whatley had submitted a sworn statement to Brian Owens, Commissioner of Department of Corrections, requesting extreme protective custody from all Georgia Department corrections staff/employees sent from Ware state prison.

Subsequently, Shawn was transferred from Ware to Jackson state prison. Shawn has indicated that his 8th and 14th Amendment rights are being violated as he is held in perpetual lockdown every day. Shawn is deprived of property, family access through visits and phone calls, mail privileges (until a grievance was filed), contact with lawyers, adequate food, medical attention after the brutal attack on January 12, 2011, and he has to sleep on the hard and cold floor of a cell with bloodstained walls around him.

Shawn is not at Jackson state prison for disciplinary reasons but for protection from retaliatory violence by corrections officers. The reason for his transfer was for his safety. The problem is that Jackson state prison is under the direction of the Georgia state prison system and despite Shawn being under “protective custody,” the prospect of further brutality and inhuman conditions is an ever-present reality Shawn faces. In his letter to Commissioner Owens, Shawn asked: “You expect me to eat food served and prepared by the Georgia department of corrections, the very ones that I have requested extreme protection from? Does that make sense?”

On February 21, 2011 seven Georgia prison guards were arrested on charges of beating an inmate, inflicting injuries so severe that the prisoner was in the hospital for "an extended period of time," according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. These arrests were made due to the pressure of protests of activists, organizations, families of inmates, and groups like Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners' Rights.

We must continue to raise the issue that the retaliatory violence after the historic Georgia prisoners strike isn’t due to “rogue” corrections officers within the Georgia penal system, but is in fact ingrained in the entire racist and inhumane prison-industrial complex that serves the interests of a capitalist system.

The struggle to defend and demand justice for Shawn Whatley is an urgent task for activists and social justice organizations and we will continue our pursuit for justice and dignity for Georgia state prisoners.

We demand:

   * Immediate access to family, friends and lawyers through phone calls, mail and visits.

   * Proper medical care with frequent checkups by medical staff and the dietary needs necessary to control Shawn’s high blood pressure condition.

   * An end to the inhumane and unsanitary living conditions with a clean cell and bed.

   * Shawn’s transfer to a federal prison facility that’s not under the jurisdiction of the Georgia state prison system.


Additional links on Shawn and the Georgia prisoner strike:

In Solidarity With:

In Solidarity With:

In Solidarity with:

In Solidarity with:
Nevada Prison Watch

In Solidarity with:

In Solidarity with:
Pennsylvania Prison Watch

Statement of Solidarity!

To: General Public.
A Moment for Movement-Building: Statement of Solidarity with Georgia Prisoner Strike.

Please sign the statement here: