FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — An inmate died at Fulton County Jail this week, according to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.
A statement released Saturday said a detention officer found Christopher Smith, 34 unresponsive in a medical unit cell on Thursday evening. It said medical personnel tried to resuscitate him. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital where doctors pronounced him dead at 5:30 a.m. Friday.
Court records show he had been in jail on Rice St. with no bond, waiting for trial for three years and 10 months.
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Bail refusal orders and indictments show he was facing a long list of accusations like violation of street gang terrorism, cruelty to children and armed robbery.
Smith also had six prior felony convictions. Three of them were from Clayton County. Three of them were from Fulton County.
He is one of six inmates who have died in Fulton County custody this year. Last year, 15 died. That is 21 deaths in 20 months.
One of the most public cases involves LaShawn Thompson.
He died in September of 2022 after a severe bed bug infestation.
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In April 2023, Fulton County Commissioners approved more than $5 million in funding for improvements.
The Board of Commissioners broke down the investment:
- $2.1 million for devices to track detainee heart rate and blood pressure.
- $485,000 for sanitizing and decontaminating medical and psychiatric observation units.
- $630,000 for 4D imaging of mail contents to detect narcotics and other contraband in mail sent to inmates.
- $1.1 million for 91 additional surveillance cameras
- $1 million for additional emergency management support with Emergency Management Services, Inc.
They also invested another $869,893 into a feasibility study toward a new Fulton County Jail.
In July 2023, The Department of Justice announced it is investigating living conditions, medical care, and use of force.
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“Following the death of Mr. Thompson, evidence has emerged that the mental health unit in which he was housed was infested with insects and that the majority of people living in that unit were malnourished and not receiving basic care,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said.
The DOJ also cited the sheriff’s own pleas for help with the dilapidated conditions of the jail and the fact that inmates were sleeping on bedding on the floor and crafting shanks out of the crumbling infrastructure.
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