Inmate Kills Kitchen Worker in Georgia Jail, Then Himself; Personal Connection Suspected

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GLENNVILLE, Ga. – An inmate who shot and killed a kitchen worker in a Georgia jail before killing himself had personal contact with the lady, a prison official said Monday.

According to Lori Benoit, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Corrections, the shooting early Sunday at Smith State Prison was an isolated event, and the investigation is ongoing. The statement did not explain how inmate Jaydrekus Hart obtained a handgun.

The agency earlier stated that Hart shot the worker in the prison’s kitchen at 4:30 a.m. Sunday before killing himself. Hart appears to have left a suicide note, Benoit stated.

Smith State Jail, which has a capacity of 1,500 inmates, is a close-security jail that houses offenders who are deemed aggressive or a flight risk.

According to online prison records, Hart has been in jail since 2015, when he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and aggravated violence in Carroll County. His earliest possible release date would have been 2043.

The killed kitchen worker, Aureon Shavea Grace of Statesboro, had been at the jail since January, according to the prisons department. She was employed by Aramark, a Philadelphia-based firm that provides meal service to jails in Georgia and other states.

Gov. Brian Kemp and prison officials said on Monday that they had engaged experts to evaluate the state prison system “to identify current strengths, opportunities, and recommendations to enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness.”

“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,” Kemp stated in a press statement.

The state says it has hired Guidehouse Inc. to make recommendations for action. Over the next year, the business plans to do jail visits and interviews. The state said neither Guidehouse nor state agencies will comment on the project until it is completed. The state did not specify how much it intends to compensate Guidehouse.

The US Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division began investigating the state jail system in September 2021 but has yet to publish a report. A state Senate subcommittee formed earlier this year is tasked with investigating the safety of convicts and prison staff, with a deadline of December 1.


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