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Arrested Georgia Correctional Officer Oversaw Vicious Beating of Prisoner “in His Capacity” As Supervisor

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    By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    In this, the first of several reports on the aftermath of the courageous protest of Georgia prisoners last December, we update the case of Terrance Dean, brutally beaten by prison guards at Macon State Prison on December 16, 2009, and the role played by TOPS, The Ordinary Peoples Society, in working with his family and legal team, and in the larger struggle to roll back the nation's policy of mass incarceration.

    Arrested Georgia Correctional Officer Oversaw Vicious Beating of Prisoner “in His Capacity” As Supervisor.

    By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    Three months after inmate protests at multiple Georgia prisons, public records have emerged to document the vicious assault and battery committed upon handcuffed prisoner Terrance Dean by correctional officers and supervisors of Macon State Prison.  The arrest warrants sworn out for one of seven Georgia prison guards arrested in late February alleges that one Christopher Hall, the supervising officer, "was present at the time of this assault [on Terrance Dean], and supervised this act in his capacity as the C.E.R.T. supervisor'"

    "Dean has suffered severe and life-altering injuries as a result of his battering by correctional officers, according to his attorney, "Mr. Dean has visited three different medical facilities due to his injuries. He's now at Augusta State Medical Prison, where he receives extensive rehabilitation including speech pathology and daily physical/motor skills rehab so that hopefully he can someday walk, speak and write normally again."

    For almost two weeks after the vicious assault Georgia's Department of Corrections failed to notify the prisoner's family of Dean's beating, his critical condition or his whereabouts.  It was only when tips reached Dean's family from inside the prison that his sister Wendy Johnson knew something had happened to him. When state officials finally admitted he had been critically injured, the Dean family helped Terrance Dean retain an attorney, Mario Williams of Williams Oinonen LLC. And on the recommendation of other prisoners and their families, the Dean family reached out to Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, founder of The Ordinary Peoples Society, an advocacy organization founded by former inmates. TOPS had been working with current and former prisoners and their families across the southeast for more than a decade.

    We waged a successful struggle over several years to restore voting rights not just to former prisoners in Alabama, but to many of the people still serving their time," Rev. Glasgow told us.   "We've been providing housing, counseling and a new start to people coming out of the prisons for a good while.  And we've been assisting the self-help networks of prisoners still on the inside who want to begin healing themselves, their families and eventually their communities when they reach the outside.  So it's no surprise that Ms. Johnson came to us.  We checked the references of her Atlanta attorney, and found he came highly recommended.  We've been working closely with Mr. Dean's family and their legal team since that point."

    Inside sources and public records requested by Dean's attorney, along with known facts of the case together paint a horrifying picture of brutality imposed and impunity enjoyed by correctional officers in Georgia. Allegedly, after a verbal altercation with an officer, Dean was placed in handcuffs and taken to a secluded part of the prison. There he was beaten nearly to death. The Department of Corrections made no effort to contact Dean's family, only admitting he had been injured and transferred when the family and community members demanded to know his condition and whereabouts in front of news media nearly two weeks later.

    Dean's family and their attorneys expect to pursue civil remedies against those responsible for the near-fatal beating.

    "The fact that the State of Georgia pressed charges against the officers for aggravated battery is a great first step; the Georgia Bureau of Investigations obviously showed a lot of integrity throughout its investigation," declared Dean's Attorney. "More needs to be done, such as better and more training for Correctional Emergency Response Team members on the constitutional limits of force. The Department of Corrections has the ability to require more than the State mandated one hour per year of training in this area."

    Pastor Kenneth Glasgow of The Ordinary Peoples Society agrees.

    "We know that the brutal beatings by correctional staff and attempts to cover them up are a daily fact of life in prisons across the nation."

    "This is why The Ordinary Peoples Society, along with other groups of concerned former prisoners convened the first national meeting of Formerly Incarcerated People the week before last in Selma and Montgomery Alabama. We had representatives of the formerly incarcerated present from all 50 states, and committed ourselves to ongoing action around rolling back the nation's policy of mass incarceration. We know we cannot change the prisons without a massive program to educate our neighbors on how more prisons have made us less safe, less prosperous, and less secure. Our next national meeting of the formerly incarcerated will be in Los Angeles this November. We're in this, with prisoners, their families and communities, for the long haul."

    Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Marietta GA, where he is also a state committee member of the Green Party of Georgia. He can be contacted at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

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    aggravated Battery?

    I don't think that any of the State agencies deserve any kind of special recognition for their efforts in doing what was right, when they have had the opportunity to do so all along. How long has The Georgia Bureau of Investigations been around and how many beatings, suicides and rapes have taken place in the Georgia prison system that the Bureau has failed to investigate or even acknowledge.

    It appears that Tops is doing a remarkable job in applying pressure on the prison system to  protect prisoner's constitutional and human rights.  Nevertheless, we should not give the system any indication that we are pleased or satisfied with the progress being made thus far.  We need to make it clear what is acceptable progress and what is not.  

    I don't think aggravated assault even comes close to any kind of justice for Dean based on the vicious beating inflicted upon  his person. . The extent of the beatings  and the  physical and mental impairments which followed was clearly a case of attempted murder.  However, I did not read anything in this article which lead me to believe that Tops or Dean's family members were seeking to upgrade the charges to reflect the severity of the crime.  The silence  around this issue is very troubling. 

    Additionally,  I have not heard very many organizations that advocate for prisoner rights include the crime of rape. What I have heard from some former prisoners is that it depends on how you carry yourself whether or not you are a target for rape.  I assume they are saying that if you are in any way effeminate or if you are gay, then you are a target, so in other words if you are raped it is largely your fault, because you should not act that way or have any desires for the same sex, at least as far as the males are concerned. I am unclear what kind of justification they use for the rape of women, I imagine the explanations are about the same in any case.

    These expressions of indifference and insensitivity  are attitudes that women have endured for years; that somehow the victims of rape have invited or encouraged the assault.  Fortunately, for women outside the prison walls we have come a long way since the 1974 television movie, "A case of Rape",  ,starring Elizabeth Montgomery, which was critically acclaimed as one of the most shocking revelations of the extent of the trauma and emotional turmoil which the victim of rape endures and the feelings of isolation  and guilt which follows.  It is no reason to believe that males do not experience a similar fate.

    It seems especially important that a group of former prisoners which make up the membership of Tops address this issue.  I would like to know if they have any plans to make this one of the major issues in their platform to protect prisoners rights.

    Historically Black men and women have especially endured the trauma of rape by white men during slavery and the promotion of white male virility and sexuality as  matter of social control,  which is a sort of mental rape. and which also includes white women, for which many black males were falsely accused of raping, and paid the ultimate price.

     As painful as it may seem, we will never heal from these wounds if we do confront the dynamics of rape and the power and violence of the act in all its forms and ramifications.  This is a  great opportunity for an organization such as Tops to be the forerunner in the social transformation of attitudes, perceptions and stereotypes which imprisons the mind in addition to the body.

    Black faces

    I see one white face surrounded by 3 Black faces...Is this why Black people struggled and died in the 60's and 70's?So Blacks can get hired as correction officers and policemen and to have them beat up and abuse other Black people..........This is no worse than slavery days......

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