by: Mark Winne Updated:FULTON COUNTY, Ga. —
The Fulton County Jail tells Channel 2 Action News they may have a solution to the popping locks problem, and that solution came as a result of a Channel 2 investigation.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne exposed the problem in February. Now, the jail says the solution could make a huge difference when it comes to the federal monitoring that's been required at the jail for years.
Winne went inside the jail once again to see exactly how those changes will make a difference.
A jail officer showed Winne how a sock or a tooth from a plastic comb can beat dozens of locks in the Fulton County Jail.
"To be fair we need to be accountable for the moneys that we're asking the board of commissioners to spend," said Col. Mark Adger, the chief jailer at the Fulton County Jail.
Adger said he's hoping Fulton County Commissioners can comb through their budget and find several million dollars to buy new locks.
Adger showed Winne new locks that he says can take care of the job.
"That's just one of several changes," Adger said that he feels will take care of the problem.
"Commissioners wanted more information?" Winne asked Adger.
"Correct," he answered.
"You can understand that?" Winne asked.
"Yes definitely. They want to know how the money is being spent and whether or not its need to be spent," Adger responded.
"This maintenance issue, this security issue, this locks issue is one of the last remaining issues that has to be dealt with," Commission Chair John Eaves said.
Eaves said fixing the locks at the Fulton County Jail could be one of the final keys to getting U.S. District Judge Marvin Shoob's OK to lift federal oversight of the jail.
"We're making progress," Eaves told Winne.
"It's very important that they address the lock situation," Federal Monitor Calvin Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot came on the floor where the lock prototype was while Winne was there
"Having bad locks and not enough staff is a very dangerous situation. So that's the immediate problem right now," Lightfoot said.
"So staffing is a key issue also?" Winne asked.
"Staffing is very much a key," Lightfoot responded.
Eaves said he's not as concerned about staffing because the money is there already.
Lightfoot said whether the jail will need more cells is still an open question. Winne learned there is an evacuation plan issue also.
Commissioner Robb Pitts indicated to a Channel 2 researcher, money for the locks didn't pass at the last meeting for lack of information.
He also told her that going forward, it depends on the information they receive.