District Attorney Paul Howard addresses the grand jury findings. (Courtesy CBS Atlanta)

A Fulton County grand jury has made recommendations to improve the county jail. The grand jury was prompted by ongoing negative media reports about issues with the jail, according to a report from our media affiliate CBS Atlanta.

“When we have these negative headlines, it’s not good for anybody,” said grand jury foreman Gillen Young. “It’s not good for our community or the state or anyone.”

Jurors outlined four specific actions the county should take to ease overcrowding and understaffing at the Rice Street lockup. The key recommendation calls for the county to convene a special grand jury to dig deeper into the jail’s remaining problems. The jail has been under fire since a lawsuit was filed in 2004 to investigate conditions at the facility.

“I believe what the grand jurors are doing can get us to the end of this really unfortunate lawsuit and all of the unfortunate circumstances that have followed,” said District Attorney Paul Howard.

Fulton County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Eaves responded to the grand jury recommendations in a statement to the media. “I remain concerned about ongoing issues at the county jail, especially in light of the fact that we are under a consent decree which called for a number of changes at the jail,” Eaves said. “Of the 116 issues identified in the federal consent decree, Fulton County has resolved 114 of them. For example, the county provided full funding for additional needed positions within the jail and more than a billion dollars have already been spent on improvements and additional personnel.”

Eaves said he had requested a substantive and meaningful dialogue with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to discuss the use of the Atlanta City Jail to alleviate overcrowding issues, which Reed had said he was open to during his inaugural address earlier in the week. “I would hope that we could quickly come to an agreement to use that facility for a fair price since it is in everyone’s interest to do so,” Eaves said.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.