Georgia State Prison

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Georgia State Prison
Georgia State Prison, Reidsville, GA, US (07).jpg
Location300 1st Avenue South
Reidsville, Georgia
United States
Security classmixed
Managed byGeorgia Department of Corrections

Georgia State Prison is the main maximum-security facility in the US state of Georgia for the Georgia Department of Corrections. First opened in 1938, the prison has housed some of the most dangerous inmates in the state's history, and it was the site of Georgia's death row until 1980.

The facility houses 1550 inmates, with a wide range of security levels from Minimum to Close. The current warden is James Deal.[1]

The prison stands at 300 1st Avenue South near Reidsville, Georgia. The state's extensive farm operation, Rogers State Prison, is also nearby - about a mile away.


The facility was designed by Atlanta architects Tucker & Howell. The modern classic architecture included a central tower and courtyard, and frieze by Julian Harris titled Rehabilitation depicting trades and occupations.[2] It opened in 1937. The building has been extensively renovated and expanded since.

On January 1, 1938, Georgia's death row and execution chamber relocated from the old state prison at Milledgeville, where it had been since the September 13, 1924 execution of 22-year-old Howard Hinton, to GSP. One of the prisoners executed here was Lena Baker, an African American maid from Cuthbert, Georgia, who had been wrongfully convicted of murdering her employer. Killed in March 1945, she remains the only woman electrocuted by the state.[3]

From 1964 until 1976 the U.S. Supreme Court suspended executions. Then in June 1980 Georgia's site of execution was moved to the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison (GD&CP) near Jackson, Georgia in Butts County. A new electric chair was installed in place of the previous one, which was put on display[4] on the upper floors of the main building.

Also on display are prison documents containing names, authorizations, and last statements of the prisoners. In the 1940s and 1950s, volunteers were offered $25 to flip the switches which would start the flow of electricity and eventually lead to the death of the prisoner. Inmates would often be doused with saltwater to speed up their deaths, which often took minutes.

Georgia State Prison was the first US prison to be accredited by the American Medical Association and the American Correctional Association.[5]

The facility was the filming location of the film, The Longest Yard (1974 film), which starred Burt Reynolds, Eddie Albert, and James Hampton.

Notable prisoners[edit]

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was transferred from the Dekalb County Jail in Decatur, Georgia, to the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia and was released on October 27, 1960, on a $2,000 bond, after pressure from the Kennedy family.[6]

Until recently, GSP housed radical activist H. Rap Brown, now known as Jamil Al-Amin. Al-Amin was the chairman of SNCC in the late 1960s. In 2007, he was transferred to a federal facility where he now resides.


  1. ^ "New Warden at Georgia State Prison". Georgia Department of Corrections. September 27, 2018.
  2. ^ Tucker and Howell Georgia Encyclopedia
  3. ^ Lohr, Kathy. "Ga. Woman Pardoned 60 Years After Her Execution". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  4. ^ "A History of the Death Penalty in Georgia." (Archive) Georgia Department of Corrections. Retrieved on November 18, 2012.
  5. ^ New Warden Appointed to Historic Georgia State Prison
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-05-02. Retrieved 2007-05-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

Further reading[edit]

Interview with E. B. Caldwell, Warden at GSP, 1971–1974[where?]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°00′13″N 82°09′52″W / 32.003506°N 82.164416°W / 32.003506; -82.164416