Few GDC employees face prison time after contraband arrests in Tattnall County. That’s what data shows about the GDC employee arrests made at Rogers State Prison, Georgia State Prison, and Smith State Prison.
As part of The Georgia Virtue’s ongoing investigation into the true cost of corrections facilities in Tattnall County, an open records request was filed to obtain the names of individuals who were arrested for an offense with a nexus to the Georgia Department of Corrections during the period beginning January 1, 2017 and ending November 1, 2021.
- the names were then delineated as GDC employees or ‘other’/citizen
- the names were then cross-referenced with public court records available on file with the Tattnall County Clerk of Court as of 2/22/22.
- 2 employee cases showed an arrest date with name and offense, but did not have a record in the Clerk of Court’s Office.
Investigators arrested a total of 42 GDC employees during the near five-year period of the data request. Those individuals, however, faced minimal consequences, with the majority of cases still unresolved. Of those that that have been adjudicated, probated sentences, provisions of the First Offender Act and ultimate expungement, and outright dismissals dominated the statistics.
When an individual is arrested for a contraband offense, as an employee or a member of the public, Tattnall County is responsible for the costs of jailing the person and adjudicating the case. The county is not reimbursed by the state.
While 42 employees were arrested in the five-year period, arrests of the general public totaled 236 for the same period. (The details of public arrests will be featured in the next article in the series)
EMPLOYEE ARRESTS BY FACILITY
|Georgia State Prison||15||35.71%|
|Rogers State Prison||13||30.95%|
|Smith State Prison||11||26.19%|
|Smith TC – Claxton||1||2.38%|
|Unknown (due to lacking records)||2||4.76%|
The majority of cases generally involved GDC employees providing prohibited items to inmates. Of the prohibited items furnished, illegal drugs topped the list.
|NUMBER OF EMPLOYEE CASES INVOLVING COLUMN 1||%|
|CELL PHONE CONTRABAND||6||14.29%|
Records show that despite thorough warrants with detailed information on the offenses, cases are frequently dismissed in Tattnall County Superior Court.
In instances where an employee was charged with a contraband offense and a drug offense, the contraband-related charge was dismissed as part of the guilty plea and the sentence was given based only on the drug charge.
Reasons for dismissal, as outlined in court documents include:
- Dismissed due to recent retirement after 25 years with the agency
- Dismissed after DA determined that contraband was not furnished ‘for profit’
- Dismissed due to job resignation and a backlog in the courts
- Dismissed due to lacking evidence
|RESOLUTION||NUMBER OF CASES RESOLVED||%|
Only three of the 42 cases in Tattnall County resulted in a period of confinement for a former GDC employee.
The case involving the former correctional officer who pleaded guilty to Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, and Violation of Oath by a Public Officer resulted in 8 weekends in the county jail, 10 years on probation, and a $250 restitution payment to the inmate he assaulted.
The other two cases were both females. One involved a sexual encounter with an inmate, which is deemed sexual assault due to the inability to consent in custody, and the other involved a former correctional officer who furnished prohibited items to inmates.
CLOSED CASES BY TYPE
|NUMBER OF CASES||%|
|PLEA – PROBATION ONLY||8||40%|
|PLEA – CONFINEMENT||3||15%|
Average time in confinement for the three cases where confinement was ordered: 248 days
Average time on probation for probation-only sentences: 7.85 years
The complete case list with specific details of the charges, the context, and the explanation of the resolution and sentence is outlined below.