Valdosta Daily Times: Prison transparency essential
Inmates have basic rights
Inmates have civil rights.
Prisons in Georgia are under a microscope and it is about time.
Recently, Senate hearings investigating allegations of corruption, abuse and misconduct in an Atlanta federal prison began in earnest.
But the problems go way beyond one federal prison in Atlanta.
Across the state, Georgia’s state prisons are being investigated by the US Department of Justice.
More than 40 suspected or confirmed homicides have been reported in Georgia state prisons since early 2020.
The investigation is looking into whether Georgia’s 35 Georgia Department of Corrections facilities provide reasonable protection from physical harm at the hands of other prisoners and guards, acceptable conditions and protections for LGBTQ inmates from sexual abuse by other prisoners and staff.
When the investigations launched, the US Department of Justice faced the very same frustration the people of Georgia and the media have faced for years, a state prison system veiled in secrecy.
The state Department of Corrections must be fully transparent and then be held accountable.
Documents related to prison policies, training materials, staffing, personnel discipline, prisoner complaints, incident reports and internal investigation materials should be available to the public.
A prison sentence in Georgia should not be a death sentence.
Homicides, suicides and other suspicious unattended deaths have been the cause of great concern for quite some time.
Federal investigators are right on target by looking into violence among inmates and a lack of reasonable protections for inmates. Much of the prison violence has been linked to gang activity. There are more than 45,000 inmates in Georgia — 73% of them for violent crimes. The DOC says 21% of the prison’s population have a mental health diagnosis. These are very real and very dangerous situations that must be addressed.
Death and injury, along with complaints about frightening and unsanitary conditions are far more serious than just prisoners complaining. The DOJ is taking it all seriously and so should state leaders. The Georgia General Assembly and the governor must be more willing to hold the corrections system accountable.
Reducing inmate deaths, acts of violence, addressing mental health needs and improving transparency are absolute musts for the embattled corrections system.
When prison officials stonewall requests for information from the press and the public, especially when inmates die behind bars, it does nothing but breed more suspicion and distrust.
A lack of transparency heightens concerns about egregious conditions and the credibility of complaints.
People — and prisons — with nothing to hide, just don’t hide.
Brunswick News: Numbers show impact of film industry on Georgia
Last month the world got its first look at the long-awaited sequel to “Black Panther,” one of the most celebrated movies of the last few years. The teaser trailer for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” dropped at San Diego Comic-Con, one of the biggest entertainment events in the world.
While the moment is a big deal for movie and comic book fans alike, it is also a big deal for Brunswick. Part of the movie was filmed at Mary Ross Waterfront Park last October and November. Once again the Golden Isles will provide the backdrop for a big movie production.
It’s also an example of how Georgia has become one of the most popular destinations for movie and TV productions. Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday that the film industry spent $4.4 billion in Georgia during the 2022 fiscal year, which ended June 30. That set a new record, topping the $4 billion that the film industry spent in the state the previous year.
Georgia’s rise in the film industry can be traced to a tax credit adopted by the General Assembly 14 years ago in an effort to spur film and TV productions to choose the Peach State instead of other, more expensive locales.
That tax credit is arguably one of the most beneficial economic policies the state legislature has ever approved. Not only has it brought in billions and billions in revenue from productions choosing the state, but it has also led to thousands of jobs as companies establish studios across the state, according to Capitol Beat News Service.
The Golden Isles has had its fair share of productions in the 14 years since the tax credit passed. Mutants came to Jekyll Island to film “X-Men: First Class” in 2010. Will Ferrell brought the antics of Ron Burgundy to St. Simons Island for “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” in 2013. Downtown Brunswick transformed into Ybor City, Florida, in the 1920s for the Ben Affleck film “Live by Night” in 2015. The last couple of years alone have brought a Netflix TV show, a major Marvel movie and a new adaptation of “The Color Purple” to our area, among other productions.
We hope studios continue to bring their productions to the Isles. Glynn County has a lot to offer the film industry and thanks to the hard work of many, filmmakers and producers are starting to see just that. Whether it’s in a theater or on our televisions at home, the Golden Isles makes for the perfect backdrop.