ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News has learned deputies have discovered a man-made tunnel inside the Fulton County Jail.
Deputies told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne that an inmate dug his way through metal and concrete so he could stab another inmate.
Only Channel 2 Action News got inside the facility Thursday to see the damage firsthand.
The interim Fulton County Jail commander said several contraband items were discovered in a shakedown of two side-by-side cellblocks after a stabbing Thursday.
But the big discovery was the hole in the wall that made the stabbing possible.
The homemade hole in the wall was huge enough for at least one inmate to climb through it into the zone or cellblock next door to his and stab a fellow inmate there, Fulton County Jail Commander Curtis Clark.
“In the arena that we are operating now, things of this nature happen far too often,” Clark said.
Clark told Winne that the stabbing victim received non-life-threatening wounds and has been moved to the jail medical unit while the suspected attacker faces the likelihood of criminal charges over the incident.
Clark said the hole through masonry clearly took time and effort.
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After the stabbing, a shakedown of both zones turned up seven items of contraband including at least five weapons.
“We found shanks that were made from parts of the building,” Clark said.
“All of this stuff that could be used to make weapons?” Winne asked Clark, who showed him some of the confiscated items.
“Absolutely, and it presents a constant challenge for us to eliminate things like this from access to the inmates.”
“That tunnel, symptoms of an aging, dangerous jail?” Winne asked Clark.
“Absolutely Mark. This jail has clearly outlived its useful life. And our job is to make it as safe as we possibly can, not only for staff but for the inmates as well,” Clark said.
“With these kinds of issues, you lose sleep about the safety of your people and your inmates?” Winne asked Clark.
“Mark, I have lost so much sleep since being assigned to run this location or this facility, it’s really … it’s difficult to talk about,” Clark said.
Clark said manpower is important. Like most police departments, jails and sheriff’s offices in Georgia, the Fulton County Jail has staffing challenges which the sheriff’s office is addressing with hiring bonuses, relocation stipends, and pay raises.
But with optimal staffing, Clark thinks officers could have discovered the hole in the wall before it was finished and perhaps prevented the fashioning of the weapons discovered Thursday.
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