Big change at adult prison that houses juveniles

In contrast to a U.S. District Court judge's Nov. 17 decision to deny an emergency injunction to better protect under-age inmates at the notoriously violent Lee Arrendale State Prison, one former Arrendale guard told CL that allegations of widespread rape and other violence are accurate. The guard, who asked not to be named in fear of retaliation by his ex-employer, says he witnessed some of the attacks during his seven-month stint at Arrendale. (CL was able to verify that the guard worked at the prison.)

"If I'd known what I now know, I would never go back," he says. "Not even for a lot of money."

Now, however, the court's failure to grant the injunction may be a moot point; a Nov. 19 Atlanta-Journal Constitution article reported that the state Department of Corrections plans to funnel adult male offenders out of Arrendale, located in North Georgia's Habersham County, and turn it into a prison for women and juveniles.

The news came as a surprise to many, including Sarah Geraghty, an attorney for the Southern Center for Human Rights, which filed the injunction and other court documents alleging brutal attacks at Arrendale.

"I'm pleased with the news," Geraghty says. "It shows [DOC Commissioner James Donald] listened and realized what was going on."

While hesitating to call the deportation of adult inmates an admission of guilt on the state's part, Geraghty did say, "It's interesting that the DOC commissioner acknowledged the complaints we filed." For years, the state prison system has faced scrutiny for allegedly failing to prevent rapes and attacks of inmates between the ages 13 to 17 who've been convicted as adults and are housed with them.

Several lawsuits alleging violence at Arrendale are still pending. DOC spokeswoman Scheree Lipscomb did not return CL's phone calls.

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