When is a death not an incident? Ask the Georgia DOC.

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Two inmates were dead. Why did there seem to be no records?

Two female Georgia inmates were dead. Yet the Department of Corrections attorney said there were no incident reports showing deaths,  no investigations.

And round and round it went as AJC reporter Danny Robbins was trying to find out about the women who died days after being transported from Emanuel Women’s Facility in Swainsboro.

Did the Georgia Department of Corrections have any correspondence, emails or memos related to inmates’ deaths at that prison? Nope.

Any investigative reports, no matter if the deaths occurred at the prison or after inmates were transported? None. Incident reports? No.

How about the names of any inmates who died, whether the deaths occurred at the prison or after they were transported? None at all.

Yet Robbins had it on the word of a former prison nurse, among others, that the women had died. So he asked DOC for the names of inmates transported from the prison. Finally, there were names. Then he got the recording of a 911 call from Emanuel Women’s Facility, when an ambulance was summoned to take one of the women away.

Sherry Blalock and Peggy Walker. Those were the women who died. One, he learned, died at a hospital, the other in hospice care. One died five days after leaving Emanuel. the other 13 days later.

To find out more, Robbins then asked for administrative reports.

Ad hoc report on Blalock

Ad hoc report on Blalock’s death

All DOC had were “ad hoc” reports, providing little more than confirmation of the death. Nothing like the details in an incident report.

One of his final questions to DOC was whether there had been independent mortality peer reviews of the deaths. Yes indeed, a spokeswoman said. What they found, though, is confidential.

DOC answered only by email. It would not make anyone available for an interview.

Sunday, Robbins wrote about his investigation into the women’s deaths and about the prison doctor who decided they didn’t need the care of outside consultants. You also might want to check out his story about the malpractice death claims against the doctor before he was hired to work as a Georgia prison medical director.

You can also hear Robbins talk about his story with GPB.


RELATED: June 2015: AJC uncovers new concerns about Georgia prison doctor


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