Federal Judge Lifts Fulton County Jail Oversight

A federal judge has lifted court oversight of the Fulton County Jail freeing it from nearly a decade-long mandate to improve conditions and safety at the Rice Street facility.

U.S District Court Judge Thomas Thrash granted the county’s motion to lift the supervision Thursday. Filed earlier this year, county officials contended they’d pumped tens of millions of dollars into the jail in order to come into compliance with a consent decree that’s been in place since 2006.

The Southern Center For Human Rights sued the county on behalf of the jail inmates back in 2004. The organization’s president, Stephen Bright, says while the jail is a completely different place than it was 10 years ago, staffing still remains an issue.

“The jail has never ever filled all those positions or had them filled in every shift. The result is that puts people in danger,” Bright said.

Under the order, the county was required to fix low staffing, overcrowding, faulty cell locks and overall dangerous conditions at the jail. The agreement was part of a court settlement between the county and the Southern Center for Human Rights, which sued in 2004 on behalf of the jail’s inmates.

“The judge’s decision reflects the hard work Fulton County staff have put into improving conditions at the jail,” Fulton County Board Chairman John Eaves said in a statement. “The county’s efforts to alleviate overcrowding and improve safety conditions for both staff and prisoners have been formally acknowledged, and for that we are extremely pleased.”