Arrendale State Prison

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Arrendale State Prison
Arrendale State Prison.JPG
Location 2023 Gainesville Hwy
Alto, Georgia
Status open
Security class mixed
Capacity 1476
Opened 1926 / 1951
Managed by Georgia Department of Corrections

Lee Arrendale State Prison of the Georgia Department of Corrections is a women's prison located in unincorporated Habersham County, Georgia, near Alto,[1] and in proximity to Gainesville.[2] It houses the state death row for women.[3]

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 1909 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 offenders ages 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]

Non-death row:

  • 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.[4] 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.[5]
  • 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.[6]
  • Jasmiyah Kaneesha Whitehead (b. November 27, 1993) and her identical twin committed matricide on January 13, 2010. Jasmiyah is serving a 30-year prison sentence and is eligible for parole in the year 2017.

Death row:

  • Kelly Gissendaner was the first woman to be executed by the state of Georgia since 1945.


External links[edit]

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