Battling overcrowding at the Fulton County Jail
The Fulton County Public Defender’s Office has asked the county’s chief judge to take action to help ease overcrowding at the county jail. Officials have also filed an emergency petition to prevent Sheriff Pat Labat from transferring detainees who are awaiting trial, out of state.
ATLANTA – Atlanta Judicial Circuit Public Defender Maurice Kenner heads the Fulton County Public Defender Office which represents about 95 percent of Fulton County Jail inmates.
“What I want to do is concentrate on keeping the folks we represent and anyone going to the Fulton County Jail safe and alive,” Kenner told FOX 5’s Deidra Dukes.
Kenner sent a letter to Fulton County Chief Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville earlier this month asking him to impose a standing order to allow those detainees who meet certain criteria and can’t make cash bonds to be released on signature bonds.
“Someone who has been in jail on a non-violent offense who just can’t make a bond,” said Kenner.
Detainees who are charged with nonviolent offenses, and those individuals who have been detained for a year or more without being indicted, would be eligible for release if they meet the criteria.
The elderly and persons with severe health conditions that require medical care would also be granted signature bonds.
On Monday, Kenner’s office also filed an emergency petition in Fulton County Superior Court in an effort to prevent the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office from transferring clients, who are represented by the public defender’s office, out of state.
“I think there are a lot of facilities within the state of Georgia where our inmates can be safely housed. I don’t think we have to cross state lines to keep our clients safe,” said Kenner.
In July, the US Department of Justice announced it would begin investigating operations at the jail after reports of deplorable living conditions at the facility.
Ten inmates have died while in custody, with six of those being in the last two months. Last week, Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts told FOX 5’s Rob DiRienzo there was a “crisis and emergency in our jail.”