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An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

School lunches allow some food insecure children to eat during the day. However, when school is out for the summer, federal and state-sponsored programs give these children access to meals.
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Brennan FrittsMay 24, 2024

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Prison reform necessary to combat corruption

Prisoner+correction+is+an+important+process+that+can+impact+crime+rates+and%2C+consequently%2C+the+safety+of+all+citizens.+Corruption+in+prisons+is+caused+by+numerous+reasons+and+is+undoubtedly+a+complex+problem.+However%2C+there+are+measures+prisons+can+take+to+prevent+and+reduce+corrupt+officers%2C+and+they+need+to+be+implemented+immediately.+
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Prisoner correction is an important process that can impact crime rates and, consequently, the safety of all citizens. Corruption in prisons is caused by numerous reasons and is undoubtedly a complex problem. However, there are measures prisons can take to prevent and reduce corrupt officers, and they need to be implemented immediately.

Thousands of dollars secretly pouring in and out, drug trafficking, contrabands, paid inside information, loose regulation and little law enforcement. The crime levels are abysmal. What’s surprising, however, is that these activities occur in some of the most secure places in the state: prisons. 

In an investigation led by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, mass corruption of Georgia prisons was revealed at a shocking scale. Since 2018, at least 360 prison guards have been arrested on contraband charges and 65 more have been arrested for either sexual assault, brutality or extortion. 

Because of staffing shortages and constant turnover, many new officers have little to no law enforcement experience and are immediately tasked with the difficult job of corrections. Because the only requirements necessary for the job are a high school diploma and a clean criminal history, it is very easy for people to get positions as correctional officers. 

Corruption is widespread in the prison system. As found by the investigation, some officers are recruited by gangs, while others are coerced into crime. Prisons are supposed to confine, punish and correct people so that their crimes will never be repeated. Correctional officers are supposed to enforce rules and regulations so that order and security is maintained. What’s the point of prisons if crime is widespread inside? 

Regardless of the causes of crime, it’s clear that the current prison system is broken, and for the safety of all Georgia citizens, must be repaired. The first step in doing so is to address some of the common issues correctional officers face: finances, backgrounds and security.

For young new officers struggling to pay bills, the promise of thousands of dollars can be very tempting. A correctional officer at Calhoun State Prison was set to receive $10,000 for smuggling eight phones and a large amount of meth before getting caught. Another officer admitted to buying a tin of tobacco for $40 and reselling it to prisoners for $500. 

One of the reasons why some officers are easily tempted into contraband is because of their low salary. The median salary for correctional officers nationwide is around $43,000. The average salary for Georgia correctional officers is around $28,000, making it very difficult to live comfortably without a second job. If officers were free from this financial strain, then they might be less inclined to accept contraband. For this reason, salary raises are necessary. 

An increase in salary might also make the job more appealing. The investigation found part of the reason so many officers are corrupt is because their job is difficult and pays very little. Especially in rural areas, those who are hardworking and have good character are less likely to work in a prison. However, if the benefits of working in a prison are increased, more people might reconsider the job opportunity. 

However, this needs to be implemented in combination with changes to the hiring process and working conditions. Stricter background checks are necessary so those recruited by gangs have a higher chance of being caught earlier. Additionally, the supervision of correctional officers and security must be increased. Many of the smuggled contrabands in Georgia were a result of lazy security and well-made disguises, with false can and bottle bottoms and drug infused foods being the most common methods. A quick K9 check, however, would have easily and immediately caught these items.  

Furthermore, correctional officers must be monitored carefully to ensure that relationships between officers and prisoners are extremely limited. If relationships between prisoners and officers are minimal, officers should be less inclined to help prisoners. Additionally, punishment for contraband needs to be treated more seriously, and with significant consequences, in order to further discourage officers. 

Prisoner correction is an important process that can impact crime rates and, consequently, the safety of all citizens. Corruption in prisons is caused by numerous reasons and is undoubtedly a complex problem. However, there are measures prisons can take to prevent and reduce corrupt officers, and they need to be implemented immediately

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About the Contributor
Stella Maximuk
Stella Maximuk, Editor in Chief
Stella Maximuk is a senior and has been on the Southerner for three years. This year, she is Editor in Chief of the comment section and helps manage the website. In her free time, she loves to listen to music, spend time with friends and read.

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