After record year for Georgia prison suicides, more seen in January

After ending a record year for inmate suicides, the Georgia Department of Corrections said three inmates have apparently killed themselves within 2 1/2 weeks, two on the same day.

According to the Department of Corrections, the agency is investigating all three deaths as apparent suicides. Corrections did not provide specifics about how the inmates died.

Two deaths were early on Sunday.

First, Andrew Garland, who was serving a 10-year sentence for a 2016 aggravated stalking and five years for the same crime committed in 2017, was found in his cell around 1:15 a.m. at Rogers State Prison in Tattnall County in southeast Georgia. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital two hours later on Sunday.

Also on Sunday, at 2:50 a.m., Christopher Mauldin was found dead in his cell at Phillips State Prison in Buford. Mauldin was in prison for two burglary convictions in Carroll County — one in 2009 for which he was sentenced to 12 years and the other burglary committed in 2015 for which he was sentenced to 15 years.

RELATED: Guards watched as inmate hung himself

ALSO: Video captures inmate’s suicide

AND: Lawsuit says prison officials condone violence

The first apparent state inmate suicide of this year was on Jan. 13 at Hays State Prison in Summerville in northwest Georgia. Cecil Williams, serving 10 years for a 2015 robbery by intimidation in Lowndes County, was found unresponsive in his cell at 1:09 a.m.

“Along with having policies in place that direct employees on the proper monitoring of offenders who are believed to be suicidal, GDC is in the process of developing an awareness campaign for use in communicating to the offender population,” Department of Corrections spokeswoman Joan Heath said in an email. “We work diligently to identify practices that will improve our ability to thwart suicide attempts. We have been, and remain, committed to the safety and security of all offenders.”

By the end of 2017, 15 state prisoners caused their own deaths, including one who died at an area hospital so the DOC did not include him in the agency’s inmate suicide count.

In 2016, by comparison, nine inmates committed suicide for the entire year.

The rate of Georgia inmate suicides last year far exceeded the national rate of 17 inmate suicides per 100,000 prisoners. With just over 52,000 Georgia prisoners, 15 suicides translates into a rate of 28.5 per 100,000 prisoners.

In 2017, one of the inmates who is suspected of killing himself was on Death Row and three were in isolation cells.

Georgia is irresistible to true-crime podcasts

See a list of the Georgia-related crime podcasts available here

Prison officials have offered no explanation for the increase in apparent suicides in recent months. But those outside the system question whether some of the deaths could be attributed to a lack of mental health care. Others have blamed the state’s increased use of solitary confinement.

At least two federal lawsuits have been filed over the use of restrictive and isolated cells. Inmates assigned to the “special management unit” at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison near Jackson are placed in cells that get no outside light and have solid metal doors out of which they cannot see. The inmates spend 24 hours a day alone in those cells, without diversions like reading or television, except 2 1/2 hours a week when they are let out for exercise.

None of the inmates who have died this year were in the special management unit at the times of their deaths.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Perilous times for historically black colleges
Perilous times for historically black colleges

Two years ago, Amelia Smith received the one thing she thought she always wanted – a blue envelope from Spelman College. She had been accepted to what many consider the finest black college in America. Her grandmother went to Spelman. So did her mother. And her aunt. And her sister, who’s a senior there now. So Smith wasn’t surprised...
Another record high possible; rain on the way
Another record high possible; rain on the way

Today: Clouds and sun. High: 79 Tonight: More clouds. Low: 62 Tomorrow: Rain. High: 70 The weather Saturday in metro Atlanta looks like it could break new ground again. “Near record highs” are expected Saturday, Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brian Monahan said. The expected high of 79 would be 1 degree above the old mark, set just...
Red Cross says 21 staffers paid for sexual service in past 3 years
Red Cross says 21 staffers paid for sexual service in past 3 years

A member of the International Committee of the Red Cross said that in the past three years, 21 staff members have resigned or were fired for “paying for sexual services,” CNN reported. Two other staff members suspected of sexual misconduct also did not have their contracts renewed, according to Yves Daccord, director general of the...
Delta ending discount for NRA members
Delta ending discount for NRA members

Delta Air Lines announced Saturday it is ending a discount for National Rifle Association members. Atlanta-based Delta said it is ending its contract for discounted rates through the airline’s group travel program. “We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from its website,” Delta said in a written statement. The...
What covering the 2017 NRA convention was like
What covering the 2017 NRA convention was like

Last year’s National Rifle Association convention brought 80,000 people to downtown Atlanta, and on opening day I interviewed some of the nicest people I’d ever met. Given the heated protests that preceded the April 2017 event at the Georgia World Congress Center and the “fake news media” narrative some have embraced, I thought...
More Stories