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Contempt charge dropped in Fulton jail case
by Noreen Cochran
August 20, 2014 10:57 AM | 1189 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Plaintiffs in the 2004 case of Frederick Harper v. Fulton County, filed by the Southern Center for Human Rights, last week withdrew their request to hold the county in contempt for failure to abide by the terms of a 2006 consent decree. 

Federal Judge Thomas Thrash had issued a show cause order Nov. 25 for alleged violations of the consent decree, which cited overcrowding, faulty locks and not enough staffing.

The Aug. 15 agreement acknowledged progress toward jail inmates no longer sleeping on the floor of the Rice Street facility. 

Previously, the county entered into agreements with four cities and three counties to house inmates awaiting trial. 

In March, chief jailer Col. Mark Adger told the county board of commissioners all 2,450 inmates had beds. Another consent decree requirement, the replacement of 1,300 defective cell door locks, Adger said was on track to meet a July 31 deadline.

County chairman John Eaves said after the hearing last week the contempt charge withdrawal is a sign the county is “headed in the right direction” toward having the consent decree lifted and regaining autonomy over the jail.

“Right now we’re focusing on the one remaining outstanding issue and that’s staffing,” he said about 35 remaining vacancies.

“The judge asked that a staffing plan be presented to the court by the end of September that all the parties can agree on.”

Beefing up staff is the final item on the consent decree’s 118-item list.

Eaves said if there is “significant movement towards 95 percent,” up from 80 percent now, if the plaintiff does not petition the court to have the consent decree lifted, the county will.

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