Lawsuit Filed Against Georgia Department of Corrections Officials On Behalf of Mother of Man Murdered At Hays State Prison

4th September, 2013
Southern Center for Human Rights

ROME, GEORGIA – Today, the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) and Hunton & Williams LLP, filed MacClain v. Owens, et al., on behalf of the mother of a man killed at Hays State Prison (“Hays”).  The civil rights lawsuit alleges that on December 26, 2012, Damion MacClain was beaten and strangled to death by other inmates who—because of lack of supervision, broken cell-door locks long ignored by Defendants, and other dangerous conditions—were able to leave their cells in the middle of the night, assault Mr. MacClain, and kill him.  The Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Rome.  

The Plaintiff is RaHonda MacClain, mother of Damion MacClain.  Ms. MacClain’s lawsuit contends that at the time of her son’s murder, Defendants, officers and administrators of the Georgia Department of Corrections, knew that security conditions at Hays had deteriorated to unconstitutional levels, resulting in multiple stabbings, beatings, and assaults on inmates and officers, but failed to respond reasonably to the known risk of harm.  Specifically, in her lawsuit the Plaintiff alleges: 

•Many of the cell door locks at Hays State Prison – a maximum security facility – have not worked for years.

•Prison audits from 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 reported that the facility’s cell door locks could be easily opened, leaving prisoners to roam in and out of their cells at will.

•The Defendants neither fixed the problem with functioning locks, nor took alternative steps to control dangerous inmate movements.

•The broken cell door locks contributed to a crisis in security at Hays, putting prisoners and officers in danger.

The lawsuit further claims that Damion MacClain died despite his mother’s insistence, voiced to Defendants, that Mr. MacClain had been threatened by inmates, was in danger, and needed to be transferred to a facility with adequate security.

Mr. MacClain was the second of three men murdered at Hays in a five-week period, from December 2012 to February 2013. Derrick Stubbs was found dead in his cell on December 19, 2012.  Damion MacClain was murdered on December 26, 2012.  Nathaniel Reynolds was murdered on January 18, 2013.  A fourth Hays prisoner, 19-year-old Pippa Hall-Jackson, was stabbed to death by a fellow Hays prisoner on February 5, 2013 at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, shortly after both men stepped off a bus from Hays State Prison.

“Mr. MacClain’s death was both foreseeable and entirely preventable,” said SCHR attorney Sarah Geraghty.  “Defendants had plenty of notice that conditions at Hays were life-threatening for prisoners and officers, but they ignored the problem,” Geraghty added.  “Consequently, RaHonda MacClain lost her only son.”

For additional information, contact Kathryn Hamoudah at 404/688-1202 or [email protected]


To read the Complaint, click here.



Atlanta Journal Constitution: Mother of slain Hays State inmate sues over son’s murder

Associated Press: Mother of slain Ga. inmate sues prison officials

Times Free Press: Lawsuit filed in killing of Hays State Prison Inmate

Peach Pundit: SCHR files Suit Against State on Behalf of Murdered Inmate's Family