ATLANTA – The state is launching an in-depth assessment of Georgia’s prison system to identify steps needed to improve safety, Gov. Brian Kemp announced late Monday.

The governor’s announcement came one day after a food-service employee was shot and killed at Smith State Prison in Glennville. An investigation discovered that a personal relationship existed between the Aramark worker and inmate Jaydrekus Hart, and a suicide note was found that appeared to have been left by Hart, according to a statement issued by the state Department of Corrections.

More than 3,500 assaults between inmates occurred in state prisons between 2021 and last year, according to state prison data, while 98 inmates were killed during that time.

“Keeping Georgians safe continues to be my top priority,” Kemp said Monday. “By ensuring our correctional facilities have the funding, technology, infrastructure, and operations to fulfill their mission, this comprehensive assessment is the next step in achieving a safer, stronger Georgia for all who call the Peach State home.”

The corrections department will partner with Chicago-based Guidehouse Inc., a consulting firm with expertise in conducting assessments of prison system in all 50 states, to conduct the assessment of Georgia prisons.

During the next year, Guidehouse will visit multiple state prisons while working with corrections personnel to develop an assessment using evidence-based research. The company then will develop and begin to implement actionable recommendations.

“When Governor Kemp appointed me, he gave me the clear mandate to keep Georgians safe by improving our corrections system,” Commissioner of Corrections Tyrone Oliver said. “We’ve done just that by improving retention levels, removing approximately $7 million worth of contraband from our prisons, shutting down the largest contraband trafficking ring in the country, and more.

“But we know we have a lot more room to grow, which is why I’m thankful Guidehouse will provide a thorough review of our facilities and policies that will guide the next phase of … improvements.”