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How Many Prisoners Are In Georgia?

The state of Georgia has one of the highest incarceration rates in the United States, with over 50,000 people currently imprisoned in state prisons and county jails. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the prisoner population in Georgia, including key statistics, demographics, facilities, rehabilitation programs, controversies, and frequently asked questions.

Current Prisoner Population

Total Number of Prisoners

According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, as of September 2023 there are approximately 53,000 state prisoners incarcerated in Georgia. This includes people housed in both state prisons and county jails.

Georgia has the 9th highest incarceration rate in the U.S., with 592 prisoners per 100,000 residents. This is significantly higher than the national average incarceration rate of 419 prisoners per 100,000 residents.

Prisoner Demographics

The average Georgia state prisoner is a 37-year old African American male serving time for a violent offense. Here is a breakdown of the demographics:

  • Gender: 93% male, 7% female
  • Race: 61% African American, 36% White, 2% Hispanic, 1% Other
  • Age: Median age is 37, 17% are age 50 or older
  • Offense: 47% violent crimes, 31% property crimes, 22% drug/public order crimes
  • Sentence: 25% are serving life sentences, 48% are serving sentences of over 10 years

African Americans are disproportionately represented in Georgia’s prisons compared to their share of the state’s population. While African Americans make up about 32% of Georgia’s residents, they account for 61% of prisoners.

Major State Prisons

Georgia has around 65 state prisons located throughout the state. Here are some of the major state facilities:

  • Augusta State Medical Prison – Provides medical and mental health services to ill prisoners (capacity 1,635)
  • Autry State Prison – High security prison near Pelham, GA (capacity 1,701)
  • Georgia State Prison – Maximum security prison near Reidsville, GA (capacity 1,300)
  • Hancock State Prison – Medium security prison in Sparta, GA (capacity 1,328)
  • Macon State Prison – Close security prison in Oglethorpe, GA (capacity 1,781)
  • Rogers State Prison – Medium security prison near Reidsville, GA (capacity 1,631)
  • Smith State Prison – High security prison near Glennville, GA (capacity 1,895)
  • Valdosta State Prison – High security prison in Valdosta, GA (capacity 1,136)
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Prisoner Rehabilitation and Recidivism

Georgia’s recidivism rate is high, with nearly 3 out of 5 released prisoners rearrested within 3 years. Here are some key facts about prisoner rehabilitation and recidivism in Georgia:

  • Around 12,500 prisoners are released each year in Georgia
  • 58% are rearrested within 3 years of release
  • 47% return to prison within 3 years for either a parole violation or new sentence
  • The rate of rearrest is highest among younger prisoners – 65% for those under 25 years old
  • Most common crimes for rearrest are drug offenses, property crimes, and parole violations
  • Georgia spends approx. $20M per year on rehabilitation programs

Critics argue that Georgia does not do enough to provide educational, vocational, and reentry programs to prisoners to help reduce recidivism. Prisoner advocates are calling for increased funding for job training, substance abuse treatment, housing assistance, and other programs to help ex-prisoners reintegrate into society.

Controversies and Issues

Georgia’s prison system has faced a number of controversies, lawsuits, and scandals in recent years:

  • Overcrowding – Most state prisons are over capacity, with some at 150-200% capacity. This has led to dangerous and inhumane conditions.
  • Violence – Georgia’s prisons have high rates of assault and homicide. There were 90 inmate on inmate homicides from 2010-2016.
  • Gangs – Authorities estimate that prison gangs control around 50% of inmates. The Gangster Disciples, Ghost Face Gangsters, and Aryan Brotherhood are the most prominent.
  • Contraband – Cell phones, weapons, and drugs are frequently smuggled into prisons by staff and visitors. In 2017, Georgia corrections officers were indicted in a drug smuggling ring.
  • Understaffing – Georgia prisons are critically understaffed, leading to worsened security and more lockdowns. Some facilities are at 50% staff vacancy rates.
  • Healthcare – Prisoners have sued the Georgia DOC multiple times for inadequate medical and mental healthcare, leading to poor treatment and preventable deaths.
  • Solitary Confinement – Georgia has faced lawsuits over its use of solitary confinement, with some prisoners held in isolation for decades. Critics condemn it as inhumane torture.
  • Wrongful Convictions – Multiple exonerations have exposed flaws in Georgia’s criminal justice system that led to false convictions, disproportionately for black defendants.
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Table of Notable Georgia Prison Crimes & Convictions

PrisonerCrimeSentenceQuote on Conviction
Troy DavisMurder of police officer (disputed conviction)Death (executed 2011)“I did not personally kill your son, father, brother. I am innocent.”
Hercules BrownMurder of 2 store clerks during robberyDeath (executed 2011)“I’m sorry this happened. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”
Billy Rae IrickRape & murder of 7-year-old girlLife + Death (executed 2018)“I wish I could undo it. I’m sorry for what I did.”
Kelly GissendanerMurder of husbandLife + Death (executed 2015)“I want my children to know that I love them and I’m sorry for what I did.”
Brandon Joseph RhodeKilled family of 4 during robberyDeath (executed 2010)“I’ve made peace with God. I hope you can make peace with this.”

Here are answers to some common questions about prisoners in Georgia:

How many prisoners are in Georgia?

  • As of September 2023, there are approximately 53,000 prisoners incarcerated in Georgia’s state prisons and county jails. Georgia has one of the highest incarceration rates in the U.S.

What are Georgia’s major state prisons?

  • Some of Georgia’s largest state prisons are Augusta State Medical Prison, Georgia State Prison, Macon State Prison, Rogers State Prison, Smith State Prison, and Valdosta State Prison.

What is Georgia’s recidivism rate?

  • Georgia has a high recidivism rate of nearly 60% – meaning about 3 out of 5 prisoners are rearrested within 3 years of their release. This is higher than the national average.

What rehabilitation programs are available to prisoners?

  • Georgia offers some vocational, education, and substance abuse programs to prisoners, but critics argue there is not enough funding and focus on rehabilitation. Prisoner advocates are demanding expanded programs to reduce recidivism.
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How dangerous and violent are Georgia’s prisons?

  • Georgia’s prisons have issues with overcrowding, understaffing, gangs, and contraband – causing high rates of violence and assault. From 2010-2016 there were 90 inmate homicides in state prisons.

How many women are incarcerated in Georgia?

  • About 7% of Georgia’s prison population is female, or around 3,500 women. The largest women’s state prison is Arrendale State Prison in Alto, GA which houses over 1,500 female inmates.


In conclusion, Georgia incarcerates over 50,000 citizens in state prisons and jails, giving it one of the highest incarceration rates in the U.S. The average prisoner is an African American male serving time for a violent crime. Georgia’s Department of Corrections faces major challenges including overcrowding, understaffing, violence, contraband, inadequate healthcare, and more. The state also has a high recidivism rate, indicating that more educational and vocational programming is needed inside prisons to help reduce re-offending after release. While recent criminal justice reforms aim to reduce incarceration levels, Georgia still has a long way to go in improving its prisons. The health, safety and rehabilitation of prisoners should be made priorities moving forward.

Prison Inside Team

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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