(Reuters) - Eight prisons in the state of Georgia have been placed on lockdown after rising tensions between gangs led to the murder of one inmate and a series of fights that sent 16 other convicts to the hospital, correctional officials said on Wednesday.

Prisoner movement has been restricted at the eight prisons and visitation has been canceled until further notice, Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan said.

The violence began when inmate Joshua Brooks was found unresponsive in his cell at Calhoun State Prison in Morgan, Georgia on June 11, Hogan said.

An autopsy later determined that Brooks had died from blunt force trauma and a subsequent investigation led to the arrest of three prisoners and a correctional officer in connection with his death.

On June 20 multiple fights broke out between inmates at Smith State Prison in Glenville, Georgia, resulting in injuries to some 20 inmates, 16 of whom were taken to outside hospitals, Hogan said. All 16 have since been returned to the prison.

In addition to Calhoun and Smith, the state's Autry, Hancock, Macon, Telfair, Valdosta and Ware prisons were also placed on lockdown, Hogan said.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)