Black, brown and white inmates in 6 Georgia prisons nonviolently locked themselves in their cells for several days beginning December 9, demanding wages for work, educational opportunities, adequate food and medical care, just parole decisions and access to their families. The peaceful inmate strikers, as we reported the following day, were already victims of brutal retaliation on the part of correctional officials, ranging from cutoffs of heat and hot water to unprovoked assaults by correctional employees upon prisoners.
It now appears that at least one inmate, Terrance Dean of Bibb County GA was brutally assaulted by staff at Macon State Prison on or about December 16 was so severely injured prison officials secretly evacuated him to a hospital in Atlanta without bothering to inform his family. It's not known at this time which Department of Corrections officials authorized the secret evacuation, who decided not to notify Dean's family of either his injuries or his whereabouts, or whether the prisoner was transported the roughly 130 miles to Atlanta via ground or air ambulance. The first word the prisoner's family received of either the beating or Dean's whereabouts was when they were contacted December 30 or 31 by the friends and associates of other prisoners on the outside. Neither the Department of Corrections nor Atlanta Medical Center, where the prisoner was held for about two weeks, has released any information about the extent of the prisoner's injuries, his current medical condition, or how he was injured.
The morning of Friday, December 31, Dean's sister, along with ACLU attorney Chara Jackson and GA state NAACP chief Ed DuBose representing theConcerned Coalition to Respect Prisoner's Rights showed up at the Atlanta Medical Center demanding to see the injured prisoner or at least have his whereabouts confirmed. After several hours of delay, correctional officials said his mother and sister, along with the attorney would be allowed to visit him at Jackson State Prison Sunday, January 2, but they offered no explanation of the reasons for his secretive transfer. Hospital officials also refused to offer any information on Dean's injuries, even to his family, on grounds of doctor-patient confidentiality.
“We assume that state officials have a written policy requiring them to inform family members in the event of the serious injury of their loved ones in prison,” said the Georgia Green Party's Hugh Esco. “If Georgia corrections personnel did brutally beat Terrance Dean, transfer him secretly more than a hundred miles from the scene of the crime scene and neglect to inform his family about his injuries or whereabouts they could be parties to a criminal conspiracy. The Green Party has written a letter to the outgoing and incoming governors asking them to look carefully at the events surrounding the case of Mr. Dean. We also note that the Department of Corrections promised access to the 37 prisoners whom it transferred as a result of the inmate strike that began on December 9. We hope this is a promise they keep, so that the public can get a complete and accurate picture of what goes on behind those walls.”
Dean's sister, attorney Chara Jackson, and the NAACP's Ed DuBose briefed the press at Atlanta Medical Center, including representatives from at least one local TV station repeatedly beginning at noon on Friday, and assured Black Agenda Report that they will attempt to see Terrance Dean at Jackson State Prison on Sunday, January 2. But as of nearly 24 hours later, on the morning of January 1, 2011 no corporate news outlet is publicly asking or answering any of the key questions around the assault on Terrance Dean, or what look for all the world like official attempts to conceal it from his family and the public.
“This is no surprise,” offered BAR executive editor Glen Ford. “For corporate journalists, a story without input from government or corporate officials is no story at all. For these so-called reporters, the story has a big hole in it as long as state officials decline to comment, even though official misconduct on the part of government IS the story. If the state declines to comment until Sunday or Monday, they will sit on the story till then. Establishment journalists are nothing if not disciplined and well-trained.”
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, based in Marietta GA, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Both Black Agenda Report and the Georgia Green Party are members of theConcerned Coalition to Respect Prisoner's Rights.