NAACP envoys and members of prisoners’ rights coalition
inspecting Macon State Prison today
(Macon, GA) – The Georgia State Conference of the NAACP is leading a seven member fact-finding committee into two Georgia prisons to investigate allegations of abuse and poor conditions during a statewide prisoner strike. The Georgia State
Department of Corrections (DOC) agreed to allow the visit after meeting with the NAACP Georgia State Conference, NAACP National Delegation and a number of other organizations to discuss allegations of guard violence and the poor conditions that led to the peaceful strike.
The committee arrived in Macon, GA at 11:00 a.m. today to inspect Macon State Prison, where guards allegedly turned off heat and hot water in an effort to force prisoners to return to work. According to prisoners’ advocates, prisoners have
remained peaceful as they petition for better educational opportunities, improved health care, nutritional meals, improved access to their families, a halt to cruel and unusual punishments, and fair parole decisions.
The purpose of the delegation’s visit is to interview inmates, assess living and working conditions, and explore reasons that led prisoners from at least four state facilities to strike.
Meanwhile, the National NAACP has called upon the United States Department of Justice, through its civil rights division, to urge federal intervention under the authority granted the Department by the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq), to ensure that the civil rights of Georgia State inmates are protected.
“It is essential that we assess the situation to determine if any civil or human rights offenses are taking place, and the NAACP is committed to that,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “The requests being made by the inmates – better access to their families, pay for their work, access to education opportunities – are not unreasonable, and could in fact lead to helping them successfully reenter society and become responsible citizens once they have served their time.”
The members of the delegation include experts and advocates with a range of perspective and expertise. Members include NAACP special envoy Rachel Talbot Ross, interpreter and NAACP special envoy Jacinta Gonzalez, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition representative and NAACP special envoy Will Harrell, Georgia ACLU Legal Director Chara Fisher Jackson, Executive Director of The Ordinary People’s Society Kenneth Glasgow, Nation of Islam representative Christopher Muhammad and
United States Human Rights Network Executive Director Ajamu Baraka.
“Prisoners are human beings and, like everyone else, should be afforded their basic rights,” stated Georgia State Conference President Edward Dubose. “We are here to say to the inmates, we have heard your voices loud and clear. The delegation’s visit is the first step in our efforts to investigate and address your concerns.”
The NAACP spearheaded the Dec. 17 meeting with DOC representatives, including Assistant Commissioner Derrick Schofield and DOC Director of Facilities Timothy Ward. In addition to NAACP leaders, the meeting featured representatives from the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights, Georgia ACLU, Southern Center for Human Rights, US Human Rights Network, Concern Black Clergy, GABEO, Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Kenneth Glasgow (TOPS), The Nation of Islam and the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus.
The purpose of the meeting was to request the fact-finding team, end the use of excessive force on inmates and end retaliation for inmates’ protests. The organizations also pushed for a follow-up meeting.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.
Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for
civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal
opportunity in the public and private sectors