by Robin Kemp

The Clayton County Sheriff’s Office denies that it has records that are responsive to a request filed by The Clayton Crescent as to how many inmates with COVID-19 have passed through the jail since the COVID-19 emergency began.

On May 29 at 4:58 p.m., attorney Alan G. Parker, Sheriff Victor Hill’s legal advisor, sent this e-mail to Deputy Philip Price, who is Hill’s assistant and serves as the media contact for CCSO:

Deputy Price,

This is in response to the Open Records Request submitted [by] Ms. R. Kemp. After a review of the request and the means necessary to satisfy the request pursuant to the Open Records Act, there are no responsive documents.

Please provide this information to the necessary parties.

Respectfully,

Alan G. Parker

On May 27, The Clayton Crescent requested that CCSO provide non-personally-identifying statistical information, as permitted under HIPAA, as follows:

  • Number of inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19 since April 15, 2020
  • Number of staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 since April 15, 2020
  • Number of staff who have died of COVID-19 since April 15, 2020
  • Number of staff who have recovered from COVID-19 since April 15, 2020
  • Number of inmates who have died of COVID-19 since April 15, 2020
  • Number of inmates who have been hospitalized in jail since April 15, 2020
  • Number of inmates who have been hospitalized outside jail since April 15, 2020
  • Number of inmates who have recovered from COVID-19 since April 15, 2020
  • Number of inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 and have been released since April 15, 2020
  • Number of inmates taken in total since April 15, 2020
  • Number of inmates released total since April 15, 2020
  • Number of COVID-19 tests administered to inmates since April 15, 2020
  • Number of unused COVID-19 tests on hand in Clayton County Jail
  • Any internal memos or emails regarding COVID-19 procedures

Separately on May 27, the Southern Center for Human Rights, along with the ACLU of Georgia, filed suit against Hill, Price, and Parker over a similar response to an Open Records Request for similar information. (The Southern Center announced the suit on May 28. The Clayton Crescent had no knowledge of either the Southern Center’s request nor the pending litigation when it filed its own request.)

The case is pending in Clayton County Superior Court before Judge Kathryn Powers.

The Southern Center for Human Rights is an Atlanta-based organization “founded in 1976 by ministers and activists concerned about criminal justice issues in response to the Supreme Court’s reinstatement of the death penalty that year and to the horrendous conditions in Southern prisons and jails.” In particular, the group formed following the landmark case Gates v. Collier (1974) that ended “egregious constitutional violations at the Mississippi State Penitentiary (Parchman Farm).” Those included racially segregated facilities; inadequate safety, housing, and medical care; sewerage and water health hazards; and allowing custodians and trusties to inflict cruel and unusual punishment.

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