Reidsville, GA — A maximum security prison stands in the heart of Georgia, steeped in history having housed prisoners from all walks of life, from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to serial killer Wayne Williams. Now, over 1550 of Georgia’s most feared and violent inmates have found themselves locked within the Georgia State Prison’s walls (otherwise known as Reidsville State Prison), surrounded by endless rows of razor wire and guard towers watching their every move; they have tactical squads and canine units on standby. The prisoners work, but are not paid for their service to the state.

Russ Bryant, former Army Ranger and professional photographer, gave SOFREP an exclusive inside look at one of Georgia’s most secure prisons.

Allen Barnes was sentenced to life in prison for rape and voluntary manslaughter, convicted in 1983.
A prison guard at the main tower that overlooks the primary entrance into the prison. Reidsville tower guards use Ruger Mini-14 rifles to keep inmates from climbing the walls to escape.
“I am not guilty of this charge. I wish my brother who testified against me could see what happens when a man tells a lie. I hope that this will be a lesson to those who testified against me and that the Lord will forgive them.” These are Bernard Dye’s last words before his electric chair execution on October 16, 1964, at Georgia’s federal prison in Reidsville. “Old Sparkey” sits idle at the prison, now a state prison, as a quiet reminder of the past.
Three meals a day for all inmates. Inmates eat all meals inside their cells.
All cells are single inmate only. Inmates are not allowed personal effects of any kind on the walls in their cells
The prison’s third floor is condemned and unacceptable for human occupancy, as declared by the fire marshal. The remaining two floors have a sterile appearance. Everything is made of metal and stone.
Inmates walk through the courtyard to see the doctor in the facility’s infirmary. This is the only time multiple inmates are permitted out of their cells at the same time.
Allen Barnes stands outside the electric chair room, which is on the fifth floor of the Reidsville prison; it is the highest point within the facility.

Reidsville maximum-security prison is a Georgia prison without air conditioning. All inmates have individual cells where they eat, sleep and spend their time. They leave the 10 ft by 5 ft cell for a total of one hour per day, which includes a 10 minute shower in an individually locked shower cell and 30 minutes in a square cage that they are permitted to walk around in for exercise. There are no weights or basketball at this prison.
A prison guard stands outside the shower cells as inmates bathe.
Looking from the execution cell onto the yard where “The Longest Yard” was filmed, starring Burt Reynolds. The playing field gets little to no use from the inmates.
An inmate is escorted back to this cell after his 10 minute shower.
When you die at Reidsville State Prison, you die alone. The cemetery is filled with forgotten crosses, a plain and bleak reminder for the men. “When you come to Reidsville, you are gonna die here,” one inmate said. ”Your family slowly loses contact with you over the years, and then you’re gone.” The crosses are marked with only the inmate’s prison number, no names. You die an anonymous death at Reidsville.


All images provided by Russ Bryant |