Four former Georgia corrections officers who beat a handcuffed inmate and then covered it up were sentenced to federal prison today, the Justice Department said.
Lieutenant Geary Staten, 31, Sergeant Patrick Sharpe, 30, and Deputy Correctional Officers Brian Ford, 25, and Jamal Scott, 35, were sentenced to terms ranging from one year to four years in federal prison for their roles in the 2018 attack on a prisoner at Valdosta State Prison, about 3.5 hours south of Atlanta. Prosecutors alleged that Sharpe, Ford and Scott took the inmate, who wasn’t identified, to a yard on the prison grounds and gave him a beat down in retaliation for a previous incident with a different CO. When it was all over, Staten told his subordinates not to write a report on the incident, helping them cover it up.
For Sharpe, it was a pattern: he was also involved in a separate incident, also in 2018, in which he wrapped handcuffs around his fist and knocked an inmate out cold in retaliation for that inmate’s altercation with a female corrections officer at Valdosta. That inmate, too, was in restraints.
The convictions were won by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which late last year opened an investigation into corruption and poor conditions across Georgia’s prison system. It’s unclear whether that investigation is still ongoing. The probe was said to be focused on violence committed by other inmates and on whether the Georgia Department of Corrections was doing enough to ensure that LGBTQ inmates were being protected from sexual assault by other inmates and staff at the facilities.
Georgia has 47 state prisons accounting for nearly 47,000 inmates, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.