FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Two national organizations are calling on the Fulton County Jail to make improvements after officials confirm the deaths of 10 inmates so far in 2023.
American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have said that the jail needs to make the necessary changes to housing inmates to prevent further deaths.
Fallon McClure with the ACLU told WSB Tonight’s Larry Spruill that the only way to describe the conditions inside the Fulton County Jail on Rice Street is “extremely overcrowded.”
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“I don’t have any other word than horrific, right,” Fallon McClure with ACLU Georgia told Spruill.
McClure said that has led to extreme violence at the jail, “No one should die in custody, right.”
Channel 2 Action News has reported on several deaths at the jail. In July, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a civil rights investigation after the family of LaShawn Thompson claimed he was eaten alive by bed bugs and insects.
The DOJ announced they will be doing a comprehensive investigation of the living conditions at the jail, access to medical care and mental healthcare, use of force and conditions that may give rise to violence against inmates.
They are also investigating whether the jail discriminates against incarcerated people with psychiatric disabilities.
The ACLU has four solutions to the overcrowding issue.
- Enforce a policy alternative diversion program.
- Re-evaluate bonds for those with nonviolent charges who can’t afford to pay.
- Indict cases within 90 days.
- Possible release for those with nonviolent charges.
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Gerald Griggs, a member of the Georgia NAACP, told Spruill that the jail needs more than just funding.
“There’s a crisis at the jail,” Griggs said. “I don’t think building another jail is the solution. I think alleviating the crowding in the jail, providing for more health care services, mental health services.”
Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat released this statement regarding the high number of inmate deaths:
“The recent outbreak of violence at the Fulton County Jail is of grave concern but unfortunately is not surprising considering the long-standing, dangerous overcrowding and the crumbling walls of the facility that are literally being crafted into makeshift weapons that inmates use to attack each other and staff. We have had an unfortunate series of deaths this year that range from natural causes, to pre-existing health conditions, to homicide. To mitigate the violence and overcrowding, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office is in constant negotiations with other detention facilities, including facilities out of state, to outsource inmates. In addition, we have been coordinating with other agencies to secure additional resources to assist with mass shakedowns and increase the cadence of these shakedowns in order to seize contraband. Since taking office on January 1, 2021, I have been very transparent about the urgent need for a replacement jail that uses smart technology and other common-sense cost saving measures that will relieve the dangerous overcrowding, improve security, provide humane detainment and most importantly save lives.”
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