As the delta variant spreads, The Marshall Project continues to track shifting visitation policies at prisons across the country. The two states that SCHR works in — Georgia and Alabama — have varying policies. Alabama has not allowed in-person visits at all since March 2020, including legal visits. Georgia has allowed limited in-person visitation since April 2021.
Alabama has finished the initial build of a gas chamber. The news came to light in a filing related to the right to have a spiritual adviser present at the time of execution. Alabama currently carries out executions via lethal injections, but as the drugs become increasingly difficult to obtain, states have begun looking at alternative methods, including firing squads and gas chambers.
The crisis within the Georgia Department of Corrections continues, with endemic violence and medical neglect resulting in deaths. Correctional officer vacancy rates at some facilities are as high as 74%. SCHR sent a second warning letter to Lee Arrendale State Prison (the first was sent in April of 2021) asking for immediate remedies to multiple cruel, inhumane, and illegal practices occurring at the prison, including the treatment of postpartum women and other medically vulnerable people. “It speaks to the level of indifference (from the GDC),” SCHR’s Atteeyah Hollie told the AJC.
A law passed last session in Georgia creates a pathway to early felony probation termination, easing reentry and re-enfranchising people who had their right to vote taken away. Up to 48,000 people may be eligible to end their supervision period early. “As with so many changes in the law, it is all about the implementation; it’s all about the enforcement,” SCHR’s Atteeyah Hollie told Georgia Public Broadcasting. “Really being sure that these changes touch people’s lives and lead to shorter sentences — that’s kind of like where the rubber hits the road.”
In June, SCHR client Spratt Howard walked out of the Athens-Clarke County Courthouse, finally a free man after more than two decades in prison. He had previously been sentenced to a mandatory life without the possibility of parole. Welcome home, Mr. Howard!