A photo going viral of a Georgia inmate beaten last weekend, reveals the lack of control going on inside the correctional facility. Cortez Berry didn’t exactly have a “happy” eighteenth birthday inside Burruss Correctional Training Center in Forsyth, Georgia, on Saturday.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the 18-year-old was approached by a dozen of his friends who wanted to give him a birthday present.
“The (Gangster Disciples) came in and told him that since he was turning 18, he might as well join the gang, because you about to go to the other side,” Berry’s aunt, Shavondria Wright, in Jonesboro, said.
Wright often visits her nephew at the facility since she lives nearby. When she saw his photo going viral on Facebook over the weekend, she was horrified. She believes her nephew was the beaten Georgia inmate pictured and suspects the violence was gang-related.
Wright says that Berry declined the invitation and that’s when about 10 gang members brutally beat and humiliated him. The teen is serving an eight-year sentence for armed robbery and carjacking.
While violence among inmates isn’t uncommon, it’s what the attackers did next that revealed how much control gangs actually have. After the gang beat Berry, they made him get on his knees in front of two attackers, wrapped makeshift leash around his neck, and snapped a picture to post on Facebook. The image showed one of his eyes swollen shut with severe injuries all over him.
Spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Corrections, Gwendolyn Hogan, isn’t commenting on the photo released of the beaten Georgia inmate. The department is investigating the incident.
Wright immediately went over to see her nephew after seeing his photo online. She said several guards hadn’t realized what happened to Berry. She hasn’t since heard back from the prison and is afraid Berry hasn’t received the medical attention he needs.
Inmates are able to control the smuggling of contraband, notably cell phones. Even behind bars, offenders are able to organize and coordinate criminal activities. They use the devices to threaten families of loved ones for what they want or will hurt fellow inmates. The Augusta Chronicle reports that cellmates called Berry’s girlfriend and demanded $300 from her, according to the girl’s mother.
Since 2010, one corrections officer and 33 inmates have died in Georgia prisons.
Cortez Berry’s mother said her son will be transferred to another correctional facility and the investigation will continue.
[Photo Credit: Facebook via Atlanta Journal-Constitution]