A prisoner-rights advocate this week released a video recording that he says shows guards at Smith State Prison beating two prisoners with a hammer or hammer-like object. The incident was the spark for a lengthy hunger strike by Georgia prison inmates last summer.
Beginning on Dec. 9, 2010, inmates at six prisons in Georgia initiated what they intended as a peaceful protest against prison conditions — primarily the fact that the prison forced them to work with no pay, according to a New York Times report on the strike.
During the strike organized by prisoners communicating via unauthorized cell phones, inmates refused to emerge from their cells to perform labor or participate in other prison functions.
On New Year's Eve as the strike continued, an inmate named Miguel Jackson was taken handcuffed from his cell, removed to a secluded area without official video surveillance and severely beaten by guards, the African-American newspaper San Francisco Bay View reports.
The newly surfaced video, which according to the Bay View report was quietly made public this week by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, shows guards attacking two inmates that the prisoner advocate who released it, Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, says are Jackson and another inmate, Kelvin Stevenson.
On the video, a guard can be heard shouting, “That’s a damn hammer!” as the prisoners are strck repeatedly.
The picture at right shows Stevenson with facial injuries in the aftermath of the beating, according to the Bay View report.
On June 10, 2012, Jackson and other inmates began a hunger strike that lasted throughout the summer at several Georgia prisons. Jackson continued his hunger strike for 45 days.
Georgia’s Department of Corrections announced that the hunger strike had ended on July 10, 2012, but eight days later, officials acknowledged that the strike was ongoing, saying that Jackson and other inmates had simply resumed their refusal of food.
Currently, California state prison inmates are on a hunger strike that is entering its eighth week, protesting the use of indefinite solitary confinement and other mistreatment by prison guards.