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Incarceration In Georgia

Going to Prison in Georgia

If you're facing a sentence involving incarceration in Georgia, you are not alone.  Georgia has over 45,207 people in its prisons.  As a percentage of its population, it has the fifth highest incarceration rate in the nation.  It is the eighth largest inmate population in the country, and stands poised to move to sixth by overtaking Ohio and Illinois.

Truth in Sentencing Approaching

More prisoners are serving more time under legislation requiring such service and policies of the parole board restricting parole for certain offenses. The  percentage of the court sentence being served by prisoners is increasing.  The chart to the right shows this trend as to types of cases. (Source:  Georgia Department of Corrections).   The trend as to sex and violent crimes is likely to continue to increase toward one hundred percent based upon current policies and the percentage of inmates subject to prior parole policies decreasing.  In addition to the parole board's activities, there is political movement to institute sentencing guidelines which would require much more uniformity in sentencing and would limit the discretion of judges to depart from the calculated sentence.  Such a move may bring down the sentences imposed by some courts, but it will also bring up the sentences of other courts.  Once guidelines are in place, political pressure will be present every year thereafter to increase the guidelines for certain types of offenses.  Already, there was a proposal this year to require a twenty year mandatory minimum incarceration sentence of which one hundred percent would have to be served in incarceration.  Such laws take away the discretion of the courts to adjust sentences to fit the offender and the crime and the community's needs.

Types of Prisons

The Department of Corrections has seven types of prisons from maximum security prisons to transitional centers.  A description of these prisons appears in the following chart from the Georgia Department of Corrections website.

Level VI

Maximum security prisons are the most secure and restrictive facilities for inmates who are escape risks, have a history of violence in prison, or were convicted of heinous crimes.

  • Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison
  • Georgia State Prison
  • Arrendale SP, Augusta SMP, Hays SP and Metro SP also hold some maximum-security inmates.

Level II

Primarily county-operated facilities, these prisons heavily emphasize work details. Over 3,700 state inmates are incarcerated at county prisons, providing skilled labor to the communities.

  • All county correctional institution

Level V

The primary mission of this level prison is secure housing for inmates with management problems in combination with inside-the-perimeter work details and programming.

Arrendale SP Macon SP Valdosta SP
Augusta SMP Men's SP Ware SP
Autry SP Metro SP Washington SP
Coastal SP Phillips SP Wayne SP
Hancock SP Pulaski SP West Central SP
Hays SP Smith SP Wilcox SP
Lee SP Telfair SP  

Level I (Transitional Centers)

Transitional centers house work-release inmates who have regular contact with the community. In FY99, transitional center residents paid the state $1,469,224 in room and board while working at a job and paying taxes. An average total of 700 residents stayed at these centers at any given time in FY99.

Albany TC Metro TC
Atlanta TC Savannah TC
Macon TC  

Level IV/III

Medium security inmates perform work details and Correctional Industries operations both inside and outside the fence. Level III prisons focus upon particular work or program missions.

Baldwin SP Dooly SP Rivers SP
Bostick SP Homerville SP Rogers SP
Burruss CTC Milan SP Rutledge SP
Calhoun SP Montgomery SP Scott SP
Central SP Putnam SP Walker SP
Dodge SP    

Assignment to a Facility

An inmate is assigned to a particular facility based upon a number of factors that primarily take into account the inmate's security risk.  Again, the Department of Corrections' website sets this information out succinctly in the following chart.

In Georgia, every inmate is assigned to one of five levels of supervision during the diagnostic process. During the diagnostic evaluation, the inmate's length of sentence, nature of crime, criminal history, sex offenses, detainers, escape history, history of violent behavior, medical/psychiatric status and drug/alcohol use are examined. Once evaluated, the inmate is classified to a particular security level. Over time, the inmate may be reclassified at a lower (or higher) security level.

Medium Security

Inmates with no major adjustment or substance abuse problems still require constant supervision outside the perimeter fence and regular supervision inside the fence. Medium security inmates must remain at this level for six months before being considered for reclassification.

Maximum Security

Inmates considered assaultive or dangerous, and those who pose a high escape risk, and/or have other serious problems are assigned to this category. Such inmates require constant supervision by correctional officers and do not work outside the prison security fence. Inmates under death sentence are classified as maximum security.

Minimum Security

These inmates have a pattern of abiding by prison rules and regulations. They present a minimal risk of escape and have been judged to be a minimal threat to the community. They are allowed to work in the community, yet are checked hourly while inside or outside the prison's perimeter security fence. Minimum security inmates must remain at this level for three months prior to consideration for reclassification.

Close Security

Inmates assigned to this level are escape risks and typically are rule violators. These inmates have assaultive histories, and may have detainers for serious crimes on file. These inmates require constant supervision by an armed correctional officer while working outside the security fence and require regular supervision when inside security boundaries. Inmates must remain at this level for one year before being considered for reclassification. Medium Security

Trusty Security

An inmate assigned to this category has proven to be trustworthy, has no adjustment problems, is cooperative, and has no current alcohol or drug addiction problems. Trusty inmates on work details require occasional

Obviously, it is desirable to have the lowest possible security rating.  The maximum and close security classifications place an inmate into an environment with very dangerous offenders.


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