Updated: Jan 27
The Georgia NAACP has filed a lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Corrections for flagrantly ignoring COVID-19 risks in treatment of prison inmates.
ATLANTA, GA –– The Georgia NAACP and representatives of a proposed class of individuals confined in Coffee Correctional Facility have sued the Georgia Department of Corrections and Coffee Correctional Facility to protect those incarcerated in our state’s prison system during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Coffee Correctional Facility and the GDC are flagrantly ignoring the risk created by COVID-19,” says Georgia NAACP State President, James Woodall. “They’re not testing individuals who display symptoms or who are exposed to symptomatic cases. They’re not enforcing social distancing. They’re not providing enough masks for those who are incarcerated. And they’re not making guards wear masks. Instead of a sensible plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19, they’ve adopted what amounts to a herd immunity strategy for those locked down.” he concludes.
The lawsuit asserts that the Coffee Correctional Facility in Nicholls, GA—a private prison operated by CoreCivic, Inc. under contract with the GDC—is violating the constitutional rights of inmates by failing to protect them from infection and spread of the COVID-19 virus. Nearly one year into this deadly pandemic, the facility is still failing to take proper health and safety precautions to minimize the spread of the virus.
According to the GDC’s own data, nearly 10% of all those incarcerated in Coffee County have contracted COVID-19. But, as Georgia NAACP President James Woodall explains, “this number absolutely misrepresents the scope of the spread of COVID-19 in Coffee County. The correctional facility has refused to test many people with symptoms and those exposed to the virus. So not only do correctional officials not actually know the number of individuals who’ve contracted COVID-19, but they also have no means of trying to keep those on the inside safe.”
Incarcerated individuals in Coffee County sleep shoulder to shoulder in dormitories, with inadequate sanitation supplies and infrequent testing. The lawsuit insists that the GDC and Coffee Correctional Facility meet their constitutional obligations and provide safer conditions for all those housed in Coffee Correctional.
About 60% of Georgia’s prison population is African American, a group which has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
Michael B. Jones and Emmet J. Bondurant of Bondurant Mixson & Elmore LLP represent all plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
### About The Georgia NAACP
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has had an unbroken presence in Georgia since 1917. The Georgia NAACP maintains a network of units throughout Georgia, from cities to small rural counties. The Georgia NAACP has been the most effective and consistent advocate for African American civil rights in Georgia. You can read more about the Georgia NAACP’s work and mission at naacpga.org.