Georgia Archives to host symposium on state prisons

Special to The Times

The state’s prison system will be in the spotlight later this month, via an upcoming symposium in Clayton County.

The Georgia Archives, at 5800 Jonesboro Road in Morrow, will host “The Georgia Prison System: Records and Reform, April 15 at 9 a.m.

The event will feature several presentations on different aspects of prisons across the state.

From 9-10 a.m., Department of Supervision Commissioner Michael W. Nail will address the evolution of Georgia’s adult correctional system. The presentation will cover the state’s days as a penal colony, and its current status as a leader in criminal-justice reform.

From 10:10-11:10 a.m., Richard Becherer of the Chattahoochee Brick Company will discuss his research on the use of convict labor from 1878 to 1909 under the convict lease system.

Independent researcher, Kaye Minchew will talk about Hollywood’s role in reforming the prison system in Georgia, during her hour-long presentation at 11:20 a.m. Minchew will highlight how the story of Robert E. Burns, one of the state’s most famous prisoners, may have hastened the demise of the chain gang system in Georgia.

At 12:30 p.m., Deputy State Archivist Steve Engerrand will educate attendees on prison records at the Georgia Archives.

The occasion will also include the Archives’ newest exhibit on prison system records in Georgia. The program and exhibit require no registration, and are free and open to the public.

Pizza or sandwiches will be available for a cash donation. For more information, call 678-364-3710.