Freedom Walk begins in Donalsonville - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Freedom Walk begins in Donalsonville

September 10, 2007

Colquitt -- After walking 105 miles through six counties, the walk will conclude in a protest rally in Lumpkin on Saturday.          

The heat from the sun and the pavement didn't stop the second day of marching for the Freedom Walkers, who have been doing this for 12 years.  "We hit the pavement so to speak in an effort to give a public voice or a public vision I guess, to the issues that we deal with at the Prison and Jail Project," said Prison and Jail Project Director, John Cole Vodicka.

In its 15th year, the Prison and Jail Project, based in Americus, monitors what goes on in southwest Georgia's criminal justice system.  "There are laws that govern how jailhouses operate and how prisoners are to be treated. No matter how we feel about crime and punishment, you know if we're going to lock somebody up, they still have certain human and civil rights,"  said Vodicka.

This group says south Georgia correctional facilities have a history of disregarding those rights.  "There are violations in all of our jails probably on a daily basis where prisoners are neglected, physically and psychologically abused, isolated," Vodicka said. 

The walk is meant to be a visual way to make people aware of these issues.  "We also meet, which we were just doing here in Colquitt, we meet with folks locally to talk about some of the issues that concern them, and find out what they're doing and find out how we can be supportive," said Vodicka.

Back on the road, they'll keep walking hoping their feet might be the vehicle for change. The walk will wrap up on Saturday in Lumpkin. Around noon, they'll hold a protest rally at the private prison there that houses around 1,500 undocumented immigrants awaiting deportation hearings.

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