A riot broke out at a state prison in Georgia on Saturday night and it was apparently documented by inmates who not only filmed the violence but also posted the video footage to social media. The violence reported out of Ware State Prison was the latest instance of an uprising behind bars as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit the nation’s correctional facilities hard.
Two inmates were injured in the prison riot and two corrections guards were stabbed, according to reports. However, it was not immediately clear what led to the violence at Ware State Prison, which is located near the town of Waycross about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta.
The prison was in lockdown on Sunday morning as officials tried to sort out exactly what happened. Details were scarce, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the riot subsided, if not ended, by early Sunday morning.
“The incident is under control and the facility is currently on lockdown,” the Georgia Department of Corrections said in a brief statement. “Two staff members received minor, non life-threatening injuries and there are no reported inmate injuries at this time.” It was not immediately clear how the inmates sustained their injuries, but there was at least one report that an inmate had been shot.
As the riot was taking place, videos purportedly being filmed live from inside Ware State Prison were posted to social media. One graphic video showed what appeared to the bloody body of an inmate lying on a bunk inside a cell with more blood on the ground.
“Y’all need to see all this,” a voice can be heard saying as the camera films the more than 7-minute video.
The video posted to a Facebook account for someone named Tru-Story Daprince was accompanied by a short written message: “Need help waycross GA bro been shot for 30 mins he loosing so much blood WARE STATE PRISON.”
Watch the graphic Facebook video below.
Another video, posted to Twitter, showed grainy footage of fires burning and what sounded like explosions can be heard in the background.
A separate video claimed to show a “possible guard in inmate custody.”
Yet another video, also posted to Twitter, included a passionate testimonial from an apparent inmate addressing families and lawyers to “get everybody out” of the prison. The same sounds of explosions can be heard in the background of that video, as well.
There were no corrections guards to be seen in any of the video footage posted to social media.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a Ware State Prison inmate was recently killed during “an altercation with another inmate two weeks ago.” In addition, multiple inmates recently told the Journal-Constitution that the coronavirus has become an increasingly big deal at Ware State Prison. “Two people incarcerated at the prison have died of the disease, while 22 inmates and 32 employees have tested positive,” the Journal-Constitution wrote, citing statistics from the Georgia Department of Corrections.
The reports were similar to those from the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, where, back in January, inmates were complaining of living in squalor amid deadly violence. That included video footage in the aftermath of rioting and prison violence purportedly showing inmates living in a condemned portion of the corrections facility replete with flooding, black mold and no beds for inmates. The recordings came amid wider scrutiny of the Mississippi Department of Corrections that at the time focused on at least five inmates having recently died and two escaping.
Reports of the coronavirus were in their infancy at the time but COVID-19 has since broken out at multiple Mississippi Department of Corrections facilities. That included Parchman, where an inmate reportedly died of coronavirus complications back in April — one month after a motion was filed in federal court asking a judge to order the Mississippi Department of Corrections to facilitate immediate testing for all inmates and employees at the prison.