Fulton County

City leaders shocked at conditions inside Fulton County Jail amid pandemic

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News got an inside tour of the Fulton County Jail, where city leaders said they are shocked at the conditions and how overcrowded it is.

Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston is in northwest Atlanta, where the first thing you notice is the number of inmates and how crowded it is during a pandemic.

A woman who didn’t want to be identified said that her son has been in the jail since April

“He’s had to fight a lot, people try to bully him,” she said.

Huddleston got a tour of the place with two members of the Atlanta City Council. Both were stunned by what they saw.

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“It was absolutely unbelievable,” councilwoman Joyce Shepherd said. “It hurt my heart. I really wanted to cry.

“This is some of the worst conditions I’ve ever seen inmates undertake,” councilman Michael Julian Bond said.

There are currently 2,900 inmates at the jail, which is 400 over capacity. The jail is so crowded, many inmates are sleeping in public areas.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is in the process of trying to close the Atlanta city jail and use it for diversion and community programs. But after what lawmakers saw, that needs to be rethought.

“We ought to get our facility and make it available to the sheriff in the next 30 days,” Bond said.

The mayor’s staff said she understands the issue, but wants to stop locking people up for minor offenses.

“The vision for the facility and the land is to serve a higher purpose than incarceration,” Jon Keen with the mayor’s office said.

County Commissioner Marv Arrington also toured the county jail. He said to fix the overcrowding, maybe the city and county should work together.

“If we had access to the Atlanta City Jail, it certainly would provide relief,” councilman Marv Arrington said.

Bond said he plans to write a proposal Monday to keep the city jail open to help with Fulton County’s overcrowding.

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