It was reported on Nov. 27 that U.S. District Court judge ordered a Fulton sheriff and the Commission Chairman to appear in court after they failed to mitigate the poor conditions of the Rice Street jail. Under a 2006 consent order, the facility was required to house less than 2,500 inmates and to have an adequate number of staff members. However, the jail was found to be overcrowded and understaffed. In addition, the jail also had faulty locks.
The show-cause hearing was ordered after attorneys with the Southern Center for Human Rights filed a complaint in October 2013. The complaint alleged that the conditions of the jail were dangerous for the inmates who were housed there. A recent inspection revealed that many inmates slept on the jail's floors while the supervisor posts were not fully staffed. While locks are being replaced, the project may not be completed until April or May.
The Commission Chairman stated that the jail has already spent millions of dollars on services for the jail's inmates. Attorneys for the sheriff claimed that the county was not providing the sheriff with the funds needed to handle inmate overflow or the staff needed. Attorneys for the county stated that the jail has more positions than the consent order requires and that the county should not be held responsible for the overcrowding.
Inmates being held in jail have the right to remain safe and live in clean conditions. If they become injured or killed while housed in prison or are subjected to unhealthy conditions, the inmate or their family members may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit against the owners of the property.
Source: clatl.com, "Judge summons Fulton sheriff, chairman over county jail troubles", Maggie Lee, November 27, 2013