‘They really treat us like animals’: Inmates in Augusta cry for help

Published: Dec. 26, 2022 at 7:03 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 28, 2022 at 9:57 AM EST
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An inmate’s mother called us Tuesday to say the jail’s heat was back on. After a story on the heating problems aired on News 12, “they jumped right on it,” she said. However, she said the hot water was still out, so inmates are still forced to take cold showers.

Another mom later in the day said the heat was out again.


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Charles B. Webster Detention Center houses more than 1,000 inmates on any given day.

We’ve gotten several calls and emails from family members about the conditions inmates are living in. They’re dealing with heating and water issues after a record-cold weekend.

We’ve dug into the complaints and talked with inmates to find out firsthand how bad it is.

“It’s making it hard for people to live in here man. I mean, it’s really making it hard for people to live,” said inmate Brandon Johnson.

On Christmas Eve, when record-low temperatures hit the CSRA, Johnson called News 12 from the detention center in a cry for help.

“We haven’t had hot water in over a month and the air conditioner has been stuck on for over a month. It won’t turn off. We’ve told multiple officers about it. There’s nothing being done, it’s freezing in here,” he said.

It’s an issue Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office warned us about after the fiscal year 2023 budget passed.

Despite having a more than a million-dollar budget for next year, he said it is not enough to cover needed resources at the jail.

Rodney Reese is another inmate. He said: “They really treat us like animals. They really don’t care what they do to us.”

Christopher James is another inmate. He said: “It makes me feel like I’m less than an animal because my parents have a farm, and they take care of their animals better than we’re taken care of in here.”

Inmates say they’re trying to use foam trays to block the A/C vents. But say they’re still short on blankets, sharing four-person cells between six people, with some sleeping on the floor.

“We’ve been in the same jumpsuits for two weeks. ... The food come cold, like it’s freezing in here right now,” inmate Andre Mitchell added. “I’ve been here 30 months, and since I’ve been here, the conditions have gotten worse.”

We reached out to the sheriff’s office on Sunday around 5 p.m. about these complaints. We received a response a little after 8 p.m. Sunday saying they’d reached out to jail administration.