ATLANTA (AP) — Nearly 200 Georgia state prison employees have been arrested for job-related crimes since the beginning of 2020, according to a list obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Of the 195 Georgia Department of Corrections employees arrested through June 30, 143 are state certified police officers, mostly corrections officers.
That includes 69 arrested related to drugs. Most appear to be prison employees who brought drugs into prison, often to provide to inmates. The drug arrests include 41 for marijuana, 11 for marijuana and methamphetamine, and nine for meth alone. In one case, two employees tried to smuggle meth inside a prison in a Hot Pocket frozen turnover.
There were 21 arrests for battery, including four employees arrested at Rutledge State Prison in Columbus for beating a handcuffed prisoner.
Nine employees were arrested for sexual assault, including four assaults of prisoners at Lee Arrendale State Prison in Alto, Georgia’s largest women’s prison. Under state law, a prison guard can be charged with sexual assault even if the prisoner consents.
Two teachers were arrested, including DaShawn Melvin, who was a GED instructor at Pulaski State Prison in Hawkinsville until he was fired in April after he was arrested on charges that he was trying to bring contraband into the prison for a gang-affiliated inmate.
Melvin testified in June that he had inappropriate sexual contact with that inmate as well as a half-dozen others, but his statements — made in a Fulton County court under a grant of immunity — have not led to criminal charges.
He also testified that he made thousands of dollars by repeatedly bringing in contraband he knew included greeting cards laced with unknown substances before he was caught in April.
The 25-year-old was fired April 29, a day after he was discovered trying to enter the prison with 10 blank greeting cards and other types of contraband.
Melvin has since been charged with four offenses in Pulaski County, including bringing weapons, intoxicants or drugs into a prison.
Melvin said the material was bound for Selena Holmes, a 23-year-old inmate who has been charged in Pulaski County with multiple offenses for her alleged role in the smuggling.
Those charges include conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with intent as well as conspiracy to participate in criminal gang activity. The gang charge apparently stems from her role with the Bloods, the gang most often cited for the mayhem that has upended life at the Hawkinsville facility this year.