At its February 21 meeting, the Clayton County Board of Commissioners approved $3,063,951 for emergency repairs at the county jail.

Interim Chief Financial Officer Stacey Merritt presented the request on behalf of the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office. The money would go through Building and Maintenance, not CCSO.

Chairman Jeff Turner moved to approve the request, with District 4 Commissioner DeMont Davis seconding.

Turner said he had personally seen the damage himself.

“I have toured the jail, and the jail is definitely in need of some repairs,” Turner said. “I have asked the Sheriff’s Department to provide a number that would be not a Band-Aid but enough to make sure that we correct what needs to be corrected within the facility, and that’s how this number came about.”

District 3 Commissioner Felicia Franklin commented, “I think it’s important for us to understand that the office of all constitutional officers is the responsibility of the board. That’s number one. Number two, that there are fees that have been received that should have been used to pay for that building, that unfortunately this board was made aware was being used for—through the Finance Division—prior to you [Merritt], for salaries as opposed to the upkeep of the building. So this is something that is important to go on record. And I’m glad that you and [Deputy Chief Financial Officer] Angela [Jackson] are there to get these things corrected. Because funds are put into, uh, we accept fees and accept funds for specific purposes. And when they’re not being used for that purpose, then this is what happens. So thank you so very much for the work that you and your staff have been doing so that we can get this corrected.”

District 2 Commissioner Gail Hambrick said, “I have a couple of questions because we were presented with this some time back, some weeks ago, and the amount was two-point-something. And now it has changed to three-point-something. And also, I looked at the list of things that need to be done, and I saw toilets on there three different times.”

Turner explained that the jail uses three different kinds of toilets and called Ben Hopkins up to elaborate.

“And I think there may be some safety things that we can’t discuss here in this open session, so let’s be very careful, Mr. Chair,” Franklin interjected.

Hopkins said he, Turner, Chief Operating Officer Detrick Stanford, and CCSO staff walked through the jail and that he “was asked to provide a number based on the facility issues that we had, and that the sheriff’s office would provide a number based on the security issues that they had. The two numbers, the two e-mails collated and I created a spreadsheet today that I will provide to you all. Specifically as it relates to the toilets, I asked for the number of cells that the toilets were out—that was one number. The number of day room toilets that were out, that was the second number, and the number of toilets in the dorms that were out. So there’s three different types of toilets that are at three different cost points, including the installation.”

In addition, Hopkins said, “There’s actually four toilets, because we’re doing a detox toilet to create some suicide watch cells that currently have toilets that become a problem whenever the inmates are placed in that space. So the detox toilets provide an extra layer of security and safety for the inmates who go in that space.”

“Okay, because that wasn’t explained on that list,” Hambrick said.

“Correct. I’ve got this to provide to you this evening,” Hopkins replied.

Some detox toilets are stainless steel basins with grates that are installed in the floor:

Images from Google search for “detox toilet”

“Can we see the list?” Franklin asked.

“I can provide it to you right now,” Hopkins said.

The request passed unanimously.

In recent months, a rash of inmate stabbings with shanks fashioned from metal, damaged hinges and locks, and reports of gang extortion have plagued the Clayton County Jail.

On September 20, 2022, Budget Amendment 2-12 requested $2,176,000 for “lock and hinge repair throughout the Clayton County Jail.” CCSO also requested $2 million from the county’s Other General Government account to cover a price increase from CorrectHealth, the jailhouse medical provider, for a total of $4,176,000. At that time, Turner moved and Hambrick seconded taking the lock and hinge item off the agenda. Franklin and District 1 Commissioner Dr. Alieka Anderson “opposed for the purpose of concerns.” The measure passed 3-2.

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

Leave a comment