SCHR Releases 5th Edition of Georgia Advocacy Handbook: A Guide to Helping Loved Ones in Georgia Prisons

9th November, 2009

The Southern Center for Human Rights is proud to announce the publication of our 5th Edition of the Georgia Advocacy Handbook: A Guide to Helping Loved Ones in Georgia Prisons.

When a loved one is sent to a state prison, many families automatically make plans for maintaining the relationship and nourishing their loved ones across prison walls.  Since loving contact with family seems like an obvious method of rehabilitation, most families assume that the Georgia Department of Corrections(GDC) would actively support them and help them to maintain the ties. 

It isn’t long before many of these families discover a surprising truth: Not only does the GDC not encourage family relationships, but it also has policies and procedures in place that make the family relationship very, very hard to maintain.  For many of these families, staying in touch becomes impossible.  Many live far away from their loved ones’ prisons, and they don’t have the money to fill a car with gas, pay for food and lodging, and drive five or six hours one way to get to visitation.  These same families can’t afford to stay in touch by phone, either.

The struggle to stay connected to imprisoned loved ones is made harder by the GDC’s failure to provide families with useful information.  People in prison are given a lengthy orientation and an Inmate Handbook as soon as they enter the state system.  But nothing is given to the families.  The GDC makes no effort to tell families and friends of people in prison the kind of things they need to know, nor do they tell the families where they can find the answers for themselves.  Families have important questions, such as what are the days and times for visitation?  Can a family send in books?  Who does the family call if there are questions or concerns about a loved one’s medical care?  Many families who simply call their loved ones’ facilities to ask questions find the guards who answer the phones to be often rude, disrespectful people, who don’t care to answer questions and don’t bother to hide their annoyance at being asked.   The unwillingness of the GDC to provide information to families at the start seems unreasonable. 

The Georgia Advocacy Handbook was written by the Southern Center for Human Rights to help fill that information gap. It is our hope that this handbook will explain the hierarchy in the GDC and how to maneuver within in it. Through this handbook, we hope families and friends of people incarcerated in Georfia will learn how to become advocates and implement appropriate and effective steps to resolve problems inside our prisons.

This is the 5th Edition of the handbook with information current through November, 2009. SCHR has also published a Parole Handbook that serves as a guide the the parole consideration process for people in Georgia's prisons.