Friday, December 17, 2010

Activists in Millen, GA Resist Expansion of the Prison-Industrial Complex

On December 15, 2010, Governor Sonny Perdue attended the groundbreaking ceremony of Jenkins County Correctional Center in Millen, GA. Activists from Jenkins County, the Central Savannah River Area and Atlanta came to voice their opposition to this expansion of the prison-industrial complex.

Activists arrived at the groundbreaking ceremony on the future grounds of the prison at about 9:30 am. Initially, the City of Millen Chief of Police told the activists that if they were to carry their signs, they must remain in a designated location approximately 80 yards from the hospitality tent. Later, the Sheriff came and told that they must leave the grounds. The police also prevented later-arriving activists from entering the campus. One person refused and was arrested and charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass.

Prison Reform Activists at Groundbreaking Ceremony for New Prison, Millen, GA from Ayman Fadel on Vimeo.

The activists gathered at the train-viewing platform in Millen, GA and heard testimony (text here) from Wayne Salter, a Jenkins County resident, who had also written a letter to the local paper and spoken out at public meetings against the prison. Michael McCullen of Augusta, GA (another video clip) and Taryn Jordan of Free ATL also spoke.

One Augusta, GA reporter's report appeared on the web sites of the ABC affliate and the NBC affiliate. This report highlighted the jobs that The Corrections Corporation of America claims will come to Jenkins County. Unfortunately, it ignored the prison-industrial complex which will fill the 1,100 capacity prison, the harms to the incarcerated and their families and the burden on the budget of the state of Georgia.

Georgia nearly tripled its number of incarcerated between 1988 and 2009 from approximately 19,000 to 54,000. Georgia's rates of incarceration are higher than the national average. Nor can higher crime rates explain the high incarceration rates. In addition, in 2007, its violent crime rate was the 18th highest in the country, while its incarceration rate for violent crimes was the 8th highest.

Recently, Georgia prisoners completed the longest known prisoner strike in US history. Prisoners in at least 6 prisons refused to leave their cells and perform their assigned tasks until the Georgia Department of Corrections met their demands. Taryn Jordan spoke about the legitimacy of the prisoners' demands and the example they have set for us on the outside.

The videos below were shot and supplied by Mr. Ingemar Smith.

Wayne Salter Bears Witness on New Prison in Jenkins County, GA

If you don't think the Prison-Industrial Complex will impact you, just wait and see

Submitted by Ayman Fadel

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