The former Georgia State Prison in Tattnall County.

The former Georgia State Prison in Tattnall County. After two recent gruesome deaths, one in a county jail and the other in a prison, Georgia's carceral institutions are under scrutiny.

Credit: Grant Blankenship / GPB News

The panel

Grant Blankenship, reporter and editor, GPB News

Kevin Riley, @ajceditor, editor-at-large, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Kurt Young, professor of political science, Clark Atlanta University

Tiffany Williams Roberts, @twrobertslaw, director of public policy, Southern Center for Human Rights


The breakdown

1. Two inmates' recent deaths have put Georgia's prisons in the spotlight.

LISTEN: Grant Blankenship on the Department of Justice investigation into Georgia's prisons.

2. What needs to change in Georgia's prisons?

  • More than underfunded prisons and shorthanded staff, Tiffany Williams Roberts says Georgia's carceral institution hasn't focused on reform and rehabilitation, so its problems will continue.
  • Young noted Georgia's private prisons may have profit motive to continue incarcerating its inmates.
  • During his second term, Gov. Nathan Deal focused on prison reform, expanding programs like the Accountability Courts. With stricter penalties and legislation, Gov. Brian Kemp's policy seems to move in the other directions.

LISTEN: Tiffany Williams Roberts on prison reform.

3. What is Georgia's Department of Corrections investing in?

  • GDC is spending $600 million to build a new prison that would replace four smaller state prisons. But critics say the move addresses only superficial issues with Georgia's prisons.
  • A 2019 audit found that private prisons cost 10% more per prisoner than state facilities. Two private companies receive nearly $140 million from the state to house 15% of Georgia's inmate population.
  • Read the ACLU's report on crowding in Fulton County Jail here.

LISTEN: Tiffany Williams Roberts on problems facing prisoners.

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