Inmate deaths raise questions - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Inmate deaths raise questions

George Hill, Jr. (Family photo) George Hill, Jr. (Family photo)

June 27, 2006

Valdosta --  The unusually high number of inmate deaths in the Lowndes County jail are raising questions from a dead man's family and the NAACP. 

George Hill, Junior died Friday at the Lowndes County jail, becoming the tenth Lowndes County inmate to die in custody in the last eight years. The statistics prompted the Hill family and members of the community to demand answers.

It's been four days since the Hill family received word George Hill Junior died in jail. Autopsy results say he died from heart disease, a claim the Hills find hard to believe.

"They killed him. It was foul play," says Linda Harris, George's aunt.  The family questions actions by employees at the Lowndes County jail, as well as jail operations.

"There have been thirteen deaths in the Lowndes County Jail, and we have kept track of all the deaths that had occurred in that jail since 1985," said George Boston Hynes, president of the Valdosta/Lowndes County NAACP.

Most of these deaths are labeled as heart complications, suicide, or natural causes. Although no one would comment on camera, Lowndes County officials say there was nothing that could be done in these cases.

The Hill family and NAACP don't agree. They are demanding answers to the questions left by George Hill's sudden death and are calling on the community to take action.

"He will not be a statistic!"  declared Harris. "He will not be just another statistic written down and labeled as a heart problem inmate died. This will not rest! It will not rest! We are the family, and we want justice!"

Hill's family has already hired a lawyer, a pathologist, and arranged for a private autopsy to be completed once Hill's body is released from the Moultrie Crime Lab.

George Hill's funeral will be held at Friendship Baptist Church this Saturday at 1:00PM.

Georgia Jail Statistics

The Lowndes County jail can house about 700 inmates and has had 10 inmate deaths in the past eight years.

The Dougherty County jail holds 861 inmates, but only had three deaths in that same time period.

Clayton County near Atlanta keeps almost 2,000 inmates and sees about one death a year, the same as Fulton County jail with its 3,000 inmates.


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