Georgia State Prison

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Georgia State Prison
Location 300 1st Avenue South
Reidsville, Georgia
Status open
Security class mixed
Capacity 1550
Opened 1938
Managed by Georgia Department of Corrections
Front view of the Georgia State Prison. July 2007

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

Today the facility houses 1550 inmates, with a wide range of security levels from Trusty to "Hi-Maximum". The current warden is Marty Allen[1]

The prison stands at 300 1st Avenue South in Reidsville, Georgia. The state's extensive farm operation, Rogers State Prison, is also in Reidsville about three miles away.

History[edit]

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'd 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.[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.

The facility also housed Wayne Williams. He is now at Telfair State Prison[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "New Warden Named at Georgia State Prison – Toombs County Native Robert Toole Reassigned". dcor.state.ga.us. Georgia Department of Corrections. June 6, 2013. Archived from the original on May 24, 2014. Retrieved January 31, 2015. 
  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. 

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