With 85% of Tattnall Residents Against It, New 3,000 Bed Mega-Prison Won’t Call Tattnall County ‘Home’

Recently released survey results obtained by TGV News through the Georgia Open Records Act indicate Tattnall County residents overwhelmingly oppose the prison…and their opinions helped sway the recent decision to place a new 3,000-bed mega prison elsewhere.

As concerns mounted in the community following widespread news coverage of violence, alleged corruption, and even murders of individuals outside of the prison orchestrated by inmates from behind the walls of Tattnall County’s Smith State Prison, county officials began lobbying behind the scenes to state officials in hopes of stopping any moves to the rural community. 

The Board of Corrections voted in their June meeting to officially place the facility in Washington County, where only one prison currently exists. 

The decision may come as a disappointment to Glennville-based BOC member Wayne Dasher who has lobbied for the 3,000 bed mega-prison to come to Tattnall County since the inception of the idea. Dasher has also advocated for GDC-oriented incentives, like the subsidization of water services to the prison by City of Glennville taxpayers, and told the PrisonTown Podcast in April 2023 that the new facility would solve many of the issues. 

Dasher said in an interview that “It seems like the people who can’t get a job anywhere else get a job at the prison,” referring to the staffing shortages a mega-prison equipped with technological advances and needing fewer employees would reportedly solve.

Survey Results

The survey, which was open to the public via the Tattnall County website, collected 660 responses from various individuals, all of whom were permitted to remain anonymous.

The question read as follows: Do you support the proposed construction of a new 3,000-bed prison facility in Tattnall County by the Georgia Department of Corrections? 

As of June 13, 2023, 562 individuals voted NO while 98 voted YES. The margin on those numbers is 85.15% ti 14.85%.

When considering that two of the ‘YES’ responses were ‘test’ submissions, the results shift to 562 of 658 voted NO while 96 voted YES, bringing the margins to 85.4% NO and 14.59% YES.

Detailed Responses
Detailed Responses Among the NO Votes

Due to the overwhelming number of NO vote explanations, all of them are included in the PDF below.

Among the highlights:

  • “This is not going to create more jobs for our county. We are already understaffed in the prisons we have what makes one think this will better the county. Along with the unnecessary violence that is brought to Tattnall county this will also cost the taxpayers like myself lots of money that could go to our schools and roads.”
  • “…Our hometown Parole Board Chairman should be ashamed to sit with him in the same room being one of Glennville’s most prominent citizens was murdered on his watch!”
  • “..GDC is not transparent with the public about major risks & problems that arise whenever there’s an incident. Emergency services, ambulances, hospitals & local law enforcement are unable to provide for current prisons in the county and the public simultaneously during a prison emergency and EMS & Tattnall Cnty deputies don’t get proper pay for their services when they respond nor are they trained or equipped for high security inmates. I’m absolutely 100% opposed.”

More than a dozen responses also cited the tragic murder of Glennville native Bobby Kicklighter in their opposition.

Additionally, a handful of responses suggested the current prisons – Smith State and Rogers State – should be closed completely, in addition to their opposition to a new prison.

Among the top reasons for opposing a new facility, respondents cited:

  • Cost to local taxpayers and/or use of local taxpayer resources (EMS/law enforcement/courts/coroner/etc)
  • Concerns about understaffing and an inability to staff a new prison
  • Smith State Prison issues specifically
  • Lack of Trust in GDC generally
  • Threat to Public Safety
Detailed Responses Among the YES Votes

Interestingly, even many of the ‘YES’ votes included conditions under which the community would support the placement of the new prison. 

  • Just hope they can get officers in there to run the prison instead of the inmates running it
  • I would support if the DoC maintained their OWN ambulance service for inmates.
  • More jobs. Need enough employees for inmate ratio or I do not support.
  • Only if there’s enough staff to safely handle the job. Only if the current prisons in our county are purged and properly staffed. Only if the state will make a monetary payment to the county for all of the extra expenses it costs the taxpayers of Tattnall County. The state should also provide additional funding for our schools to offset the fact the county does not collect property tax for the state land.

One response mentioned the 2021 murder of Bobby Kicklighter

“Though I understand that the “safety” concerns regarding the Bobby Kicklighter issue, I believe the impact on small businesses that are supported by the prison system will be impacted. Reidsville and Glennville have substantially benefited from the Prison system”. 

The response appears to be submitted by the same individual who submitted this response:

“Though I understand the Prison industry has taken it on the chin of late, it is a provider of jobs for this community and has been so for multiple decades. Having a new facility with latest technology and infrastructure would be better suited to combat safety needs to old facilities are without.”

Responses About Jobs & Local Economy 

  • Yes it would bring jobs but they need to pay more
  • Our area needs the jobs
  • Will create additional jobs for our communities. Need to make sure the Dept of Corrections is planning for in house medical treatment. Certainly don’t want to overburden our local health care facilities 
  • It will help our economy yes
  • Prison brings lots of economical benefits. GSP was featured in “The Longest Yard” One of the best movies ever
  • Agreed, it could brin
  • Point to consider…..Between Smith, Rogers & GSP (approximately 4000) inmates) the Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office had more escapes in the past decade that these three facilities combined…..

Other Responses

  • A newer facility would be great
  • It closes two and only leaves one
  • 3,000 is a good start.
  • All we can do is pray.
  • That would be very helpful to surrounding countries.
  • Go for it.

Jessica Szilagyi

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of TGV News. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement and corrections. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and co-creator of of the Peabody Award-nominated podcast 'Prison Town.'

Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

1 Comment

  1. What a disgusting waste of taxpayer money. Could easily spend a fraction renovating prisons that are ALREADY there! I smell embezzlement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Story

Statesboro Food Bank Asking for Specific Donations

Next Story

Biden DOL secretary nominee told California Labor offices to obstruct immigration enforcement

Sign Up For Our  Newsletter
Get the latest headlines and stories - and even exclusive content!- sent right to your inbox.
Stay Updated
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.
Sign Up For Our  Newsletter
Get the latest headlines and stories - and even exclusive content!- sent right to your inbox.
Stay Updated
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.
Sign Up For Our  Newsletter
Get the latest headlines and stories - and even exclusive content!- sent right to your inbox.
Stay Updated
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.

The Latest News Straight to Your Inbox

Get the latest headlines and stories - and even exclusive content!- sent right to your inbox.
Click Me