Wednesday, June 19, 2024
HomeNewsInmate Death at Augusta State Medical Prison Raises Questions About Facility Safety

Inmate Death at Augusta State Medical Prison Raises Questions About Facility Safety

-

The death of an inmate at Augusta State Medical Prison on Saturday is raising new questions about the operation and control of the facility.

Roderick Hayes, 29, died after a guard allowed Hayes and two other inmates into a cell with the intention of attacking the man inside, authorities said. However, the targeted victim fought back, killing Hayes. Hayes was serving a lengthy sentence for a long list of crimes, including child cruelty, trafficking sexual servitude, pimping a minor and sexual exploitation of a child.

An investigation by the Georgia Department of Corrections led to murder and aggravated assault charges against guard Lloyd Edward Hopkins, 51, as well as inmates Brendon Moore and Andy Ulysse. Hopkins was also fired and charged with violation of oath by a public officer as well.

Despite a weekend statement from GDC officials regarding a zero-tolerance policy for corrupt guards, state prison officials have avoided questions as violence surges in its facilities. In this weekend’s murder, prosecutors were hindered by a camera system that has not functioned for many years. The killing happened in the mental health facility, where inmates with severe problems require supervision, raising questions about the lack of adequate oversight without a working surveillance system.

On its website, GDC claims that the mission of ASMP is to “Ensure public safety and effectively house offenders while operating a safe and secure facility.” Yet, safety issues persist.

Complicating matters further is the prison’s location on the county line dividing Columbia and Richmond counties. Although it’s technically considered Grovetown, the county line runs through the middle of the mental health unit. Authorities must routinely determine which side of the county line the crimes happened before deciding which coroner or prosecutor to call when investigations are undertaken.

Doubts about the effective operation of the medical prison and other state prisons have dominated headlines for years. The creators of a Facebook page for “Human and Civil Rights Coalition of Georgia” has been sounding the alarm for years.

This weekend, a post on that site says “most officers are corrupt and gangbangers themselves” and displays a photo of Hayes and the guard.

Anjanette Hill posted Sunday that inmates are often put into positions to perform acts they don’t want to commit on the threat of their life.

Added Charlotte LaTrene, “It is sad enough that the prison is often times worse than the streets, but to have people in place that are entrusted to the care of the offenders to actually be enablers and ring leaders … is appalling.”

This incident is not the first time an ASMP guard has been accused of helping inmates attack each other. In October 2022, Officer Daniel Farmer was criminally charged with helping a convicted killer assault another inmate at the facility.

A few years ago, inmate Henry Giles set his mattress on fire in what appeared to be a protest. Two supervising officers witnessed the act, and other prisoners were evacuated as smoke filled the dorm. However, Giles remained in his locked, smoke-filled cell for over three hours, ultimately leading to his death. A GBI medical examiner ruled Giles’ death a homicide based on an internal investigation, which concluded that Giles died due to “the delay and negligence” of the officers in removing him from his unventilated cell.

A civil rights lawsuit against the state of Georgia over conditions inside the prison, particularly at Augusta State Medical Prison, was settled in 2022. The settlement followed the U.S. Department of Justice’s announcement that it would investigate allegations that prison officials had abandoned their responsibility for keeping inmates safe and providing reasonable medical care, among other concerns.

In the weekend murder, two of the inmates charged with plotting the botched attack were serving time for serious felonies. Moore is serving time for rape, fleeing/eluding police, hijacking a motor vehicle, armed robbery, terroristic acts and threats, kidnapping, and aggravated sodomy. Ulysse is serving time for kidnapping, armed robbery, false imprisonment, and theft by taking.

Here is the Georgia Department of Corrections’ statement on Saturday’s killing:

“The GDC maintains a zero-tolerance policy for individuals who choose to ignore their oath and jeopardize our non-negotiable mission of public safety. The actions of this individual do not reflect the hundreds of officers who are committed each and every day to ensuring the safety of the public and the safe operations of our facilities.”

Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh is an award-winning crime reporter in the Augusta-Aiken area with experience writing for The Augusta Chronicle, The Augusta Press and serving as publisher of The Jail Report. Rickabaugh is a 1994 graduate of the University of South Carolina and has appeared on several crime documentaries on the Investigation Discovery channel.
Share to...