Arrendale State Prison

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Lee Arrendale State Prison of the Georgia Department of Corrections is a women's prison located in unincorporated Habersham County, Georgia, near Alto.[1] It houses the state death row for women.[2]

It became exclusively a women's prison in early 2005. A number of the young male inmates were kept there until mid-2005, when they were moved to other prisons in the state. The prison has four dormitories and a medical building. The officers at Arrendale are still transitioning from one of the most violent prisons in Georgia to a general purpose women's prison. In March 2006, the prison took in 350 women prisoners from Georgia's overflowing jail system.[citation needed]


In 2004, the prison housed 1200 adult male inmates, mostly under the age of 25, in addition to 11 juveniles between the ages of 13 and 16. 140 of the adult inmates between the ages of 17 and 20 were declared too vulnerable to be housed with the general population.

The prison had come under scrutiny for failing to ensure the safety of its youth inmates. One inmate was strangled to death in February 2004. At the prison, juvenile inmates are kept separate from the adult population, but attend education classes together.

As a result of the prison's troubles, the state of Georgia decided to make Arrendale a women's prison to improve its status as the second most violent prison in the state.

Arrendale is also home to the United States' first all-female fire department and the state's first inmate fire department, thanks to the Georgia Department of Corrections' (GDC) Fire Services Division. The GDC operates many fire departments throughout the state, staffed solely by inmates, who are supervised by a POST-certified GDC employee who is also trained as a firefighter. The inmate firefighter program provides protection to the largely rural communities near the prisons, as well as to other locations in Georgia during emergencies. Inmates are carefully selected and are trained and certified in accordance with Georgia law and the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council, as with any regular fire department. In 2007, inmate fire squads responded to the wildfires in South Georgia, in addition to the hundreds of other alarms they received statewide.

The older original part of the prison was built in 1926 as a TB Hospital and operated till the mid-1950s when it was turned over to the Georgia Prison system. Specifically used as a prison for youthful offeners age 18-25, the prison was known in the 1960s and 1970s when it had a high school rated football team and marching band. The football team was mostly undefeated until all local high schools refused to play them and lobbied the Georgia Department of Education to make them disband. At the same time Warden E. B. Caldwell made it mandatory that all inmates obtain a GED diploma and enroll in one of the on site Vocational Schools that were started under his administration.

The prison was named after Lee Arrendale, former Chairman of the Georgia Board of Corrections after he and his wife were killed in a plane crash.

Notable inmates[edit]

  • Lynn Turner, Julia Lynn Turner, also known as the "Anti-freeze killer," killed her police officer husband, Glenn Turner, and six years later, her fireman boyfriend Randy Thompson in 2001. The court found that she had poisoned both of them with anti-freeze in their food. Her goal was to collect both their life insurance money. In 2004 she was sentenced to life in prison for the Turner's murder. In 2007 she was sentenced to another life sentence, but without parole, for Randy's murder. She was found dead in her cell in September 2010 at Metro state prison in Atlanta.[citation needed]
  • Shawntae Harris better known as Da Brat served three years for aggravated assault of a waitress at a nightclub.[3] She attempted an unsuccessful escape on September 18, 2008, which could have resulted in Harris facing more time. She was released from custody on February 28, 2011. [4]
  • Andrea Sneiderman was convicted of 9 counts of perjury following the murder of her husband, Rusty. Andrea Sneiderman was sentenced to 5 years in prison in August 2013. [5]
  • Jasmiyah Kaneesha Whitehead (b. November 27, 1993) is an identical twin and in 2014 she and her sister, Tasmiyah Janeesha Whithead (b. November 27, 1993), were sentenced to 30 years in prison for having committed matricide. Her twin sister, Tasmiyah, is serving her time in Pulaski State Prison. Jasmiyah's incarceration in this prison began on February 24, 2014 and her maximum possible release date is May 19, 2040. On January 13, 2010 in Conyers, Georgia, 16 year old Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah beat and stabbed their mother, Jarmecca Whitehead (b. April 18, 1975), who was also known by the nickname "Nikki" during an argument in there Bridle Ridge gated community residence. Jarmecca was a single parent and had been an employed beautician at the time of her death. Jarmecca had suspected that her daughters were experimenting with drugs and sexually active. She did not want her daughters to get involved with drugs and promiscuous activities like she had done when she was a teenager. She had tried to establish rules and boundaries with her teenage daughters who went from being honor roll students to rebellious wayward teenagers around the age of 13. However, Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah viewed their mom as being a hypocrite. In 2008 they had assaulted their mother. They were arrested and the juvenile court sent the twins to live with their elderly great grandmother. On January 5, 2010 when the Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah appeared in juvenile court, the judge was informed by their elderly great grandmother that she could not take care of her great granddaughters. That same day Jarmecca was granted custody of her daughters. Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah were not happy and the juvenile court judge said that they would have a status conference on January 19, 2010. Jasmiyah and her sister murdered their mother before the scheduled status conference. Jasmiyah was arrested on May 21, 2010 at a relatives residence. The twins initially claimed innocence before admitting their guilt in 2014. Their crime has been featured in true crime documentaries and true crime television shows such as the MSNBC Dateline episode titled "Bad Blood", Snapped episode 1403 titled "The Whitehead Twins" and Evil Twins episode titled "Honor Roll Killers" which aired on the Investigation Discovery television network.[6]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°27′03″N 83°35′36″W / 34.45094°N 83.59347°W / 34.45094; -83.59347