The video, taken on 31st December 2010, shows Kelvin Stevenson and Miguel Jackson being restrained by guards while while other guards beat them with what appears to be a hammer. Eye witnesses report that Stevenson was handcuffed at the time.
The video was shot by prison staff and has just been released after tireless efforts from a relative of one of the inmates. The guard in question has not been reprimanded, and the district attorney was in possession of the video but did not seek charges.
Kelvin Stevenson immediately after being beaten by prison guards
This violent incident occured in the aftermath of the 2010 Georgia prisoners' strike which began on 9th December 2010. At the time, this was the biggest prisoner strike in US history, and involved thousands of prisoners in mens' prisons across Georgia. The strikers had the following demands:
- A living wage for work: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC
demands prisoners work for free.
- Educational opportunities: For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.
- Decent health care: In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.
- An end to cruel and unusual punishments: In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.
- Decent living conditions: Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.
- Nutritional meals: Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.
- Vocational and self-improvement opportunities: The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.
- Access to families: The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.
- Just parole decisions: The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.
Not only was the strike the largest of its kind at the time, Black Agenda Report described it as
...a groundbreaking event not only because inmates are standing up for themselves and their own human rights, but because prisoners are setting an example by reaching across racial boundaries which, in prisons, have historically been used to pit oppressed communities against each other.
After the strike
As the strikers refused to leave their cells, they faced brutal retaliation:
Bruce A. Dixon
State corrections officials responded with temporary cutoffs of heat, water and electricity in some buildings, along with an orgy of savage assaults and beatings across multiple institutions statewide. In one instance, corrections officials apparently conspired to conceal the whereabouts and condition of one prisoner who lingered near death in a coma for most of a week while they shuffled him hundreds of miles between prisons and hospitals.
The prisoner referred to above was Terrance Dean, who was separated from other prisoners and beaten by prison guards wile handcuffed. His injuries were life-altering, requiring extensive specialist rehabilitation. Dean remains incarcerated and suffers from slurred speech, seizures, struggles to use his hands, and has to walk with a leg brace. An FBI investigation into the attack on Dean was launched, with several officers arrested.
Terrance Dean has been left permanently disabled
37 men who were considered to have helped organise the strike were rounded up from Georgia prisons and placed in close confinement with no medical attention, and limited access to visits, communication, or legal representation.
On 10th June 2012, some of these men joined others in Jackson and began a hunger strike, which continued for five weeks. Details of the strike and background information can be found here.