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Unprecedented number of Georgia inmates who died in 2020

Bobby Thompson is one of at least 29 people who died by suicide at Georgia correctional facilities last year, a rate about three times the national average.

Andy Pierrotti

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An 11Alive Reveal investigation has uncovered an unprecedented number of people who died inside Georgia prisons last year. One of them includes a man with a known mental illness prison official failed to protect.

He’s 24-year-old Bobby Thompson. His mother, India Tarver, says her son called her at work nearly every day to catch up. “Between 12 and 1 o’clock and he knows the time. He was never late,” Tarver said. 

On September 23, 2020, though, Tarver’s phone didn’t ring. She got a gut feeling something was wrong. So, she called the Wheeler Correctional facility in Alamo, Georgia, where Thompson was incarcerated since last January.

A few days later, she learned her son hung himself with a bedsheet tied from a top bunk in an isolation room.