published Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Inmate killed in fight at Hays State Prison in Trion


by Andrew Pantazi
 Hays State Prison is located just east of U.S. Highway 27, in Trion Ga.
Hays State Prison is located just east of U.S. Highway 27, in Trion Ga.
Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

An inmate at Hays State Prison in Trion, Ga., was killed early Saturday in a fight with at least one other inmate, authorities said.

Chattooga County Coroner Earle Rainwater said he was called at 6:30 a.m. to the maximum-security prison. He said the inmate was dead when he arrived.

He would not release the inmate's identity or the cause of death but said there had been a fight. Chattooga County Sheriff John Everett said he heard the inmate who died had been stabbed.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the slain inmate was attacked by at least one other person.

"The inmate died after having been assaulted by other inmates," Keenan said, according to the newspaper. "We will not identify any of the perpetrators until we bring charges against them."

The Chattanooga Times Free Press could not reach Keenan on Saturday. GBI spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan would say only that the agency is investigating the slaying.

Prison officials redirected calls to the Department of Corrections, which did not return messages Saturday.

Since Warden Clay Tatum took over Hays State Prison on Aug. 11, 2010, the prison has faced a few problems.

In December, Hays was one of the Georgia prisons whose inmates went on strike. The inmates said they wouldn't perform chores or work duties until they had improved living conditions. The prison went on lockdown, denying free movement, showers and access to television to the inmates. The strike lasted five days, according to a Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

In April, a 20-year corrections officer at the prison was arrested after calling a crisis center to say he was going to "make the police kill him," a police report said.

Last month, a civil rights group sued the prison for abuse that four inmates say prison officers inflicted on them last year.

about Andrew Pantazi...

Andrew Pantazi is an intern at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who says that when he was 7 he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life: play hockey for the Colorado Avalanche. Unfortunately, he says he wasn't any good at hockey, so he became a journalist instead. He writes about the lives we hide, like the man who suffered a stroke but smiled, or the football walk-on who endured 5 ...

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