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Second Quarterly Report
Of the Court Monitor
RE: Harper, et al. v. Fulton County et al.

This report covers the period from late May through September
2006. It is based on a visit to the jail on June 28 and 29 and another
during the week of September 18 to 22. It also relies on e-mails,
telephone calls, and correspondence from prisoners, attorneys, jail staff
and Fulton County officials and a review of various documents provided to
me. It is submitted in accordance with the requirements of Section V of
the above-cited Consent Order.
The report, like the first one, will be organized around the major
topics contained in the Consent Order but it will have a chronological
dimension as well. My understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of
the jail’s organizational structure evolved during this period and this has
led me to conclusions that were not so apparent three months ago.
During my first inspection of the jail in late March 2006, I had a long
meeting the Sheriff, his attorney, and the jail’s management staff to
discuss frankly how we would work together to meet the reporting and
compliance requirements of the consent order. At the end of the meeting
two things were clear. Having a court monitor could be helpful, but only if
there were candor and complete honesty; acknowledging problems would
be a necessary step in solving them. Secondly, we agreed that we would
have to experiment with the mechanics of collaborating, most of the time
from a distance.
We began with a fairly unstructured process of telephone calls and
e-mails about various reporting and compliance issues, mostly between
the court monitor and Charles Felton, the Chief Jailer, although several
other staff members also called directly to report problems or seek advice.
It was quickly apparent that more structure was required so first a weekly,
and then a monthly, e-mailed written report from the Chief Jailer, sent
through the Sheriff’s attorney, became the vehicle.

When a report was received, I would respond with comments or
questions, sometimes with criticisms, and frequently with long and fairly
detailed “how to” suggestions about particular problems. The purpose of
the responses was to encourage a more disciplined way for the jail to
report progress but also to help sharpen their own problem- solving skills.
A pattern had emerged of just describing problems without moving toward
It was hoped that the “dialogue” created by reports from the jail and
responses from the monitor would involve jail staff in finding solutions and
quicken progress toward compliance. Whether it did that at all is far from
certain, but it may have shed light on impediments to compliance that are
broader and require different strategies to surmount. In evaluating
compliance with major components of the consent order, I will, from time
to time, refer to the dialogue that has occurred, whether in written reports
and comments or in actual discussions and observations. I hope this will
add flesh to the skeleton of the report’s conclusion.
Overcrowding and Population Management
The Consent Order requires the Sheriff to manage the inmate
population in such a way that no inmate is required to sleep on the floor
and no more than two inmates are housed to a cell. It also imposes a
capacity of 2250 at the main facility on Rice Street, 200 at Bellwood and
100 at Marietta. During this reporting period the jail managed to eliminate
housing more than two inmates to a cell and much of the time has
remained below capacity, if barely. I am not aware that any inmate was
required to sleep on the floor.
Outsourcing, or boarding prisoners at other facilities, remains the
main component of the jail’s population management “plan”. On a given
day somewhere between 300 and 400 of Fulton County’s roughly 3,000
inmates are housed in jails in Cook, Decater and DeKalb counties, the
Pelham city jail or in the Atlanta city jail, the latter accounting for nearly
half of the current outsourcing capacity.
There has been only a small increase in the use of outsourcing in the
last several months and getting more beds in the existing jails seems

unlikely. The possible expansion of outsourcing has been raised
frequently, but a real plan has never emerged. For example, a June
compliance report to the monitor announced the encouraging news that, in
addition to existing outsourcing counties, Clayton County was expected to
provide an additional 200 beds. In my comments on that report, I
suggested that an analysis was needed to determine the feasibility of
using the Laramore jail (which had also been discussed) or the old Clayton
County jail, including estimates of potential bed capacity, additional
staffing requirements, possible operating problems etc. The next report on
June 20 did not mention the Laramore jail but indicated that a “very
productive” meeting had been held with the Sheriff of Clayton County
about housing an additional 192 prisoners in the main jail but “…not the
old jail that was previously discussed.”
Since then the jail’s reports to the monitor have made no further
mention of Clayton County. Whatever information I have about further
negotiations (and controversy) in Clayton County was not provided by the
Sheriff or his staff but gleaned from media reports. The same is true about
negotiations for possible beds in Polk County. If the Sheriff has a
comprehensive plan for population management I have not seen it.
In mid-August I repeated my concern about overcrowding at the jail.
For one thing, during July and most of August when the jail had managed
to stay below the cap, it was running at or above 90 percent of the 2250
main jail capacity even with a newly focused effort to process prisoners
more quickly. With such a high occupancy rate, the unpredictability of the
jail’s population caused the jail to constantly risk exceeding the courtmandated capacity. Indeed, on August 29 it did go over the cap and was
over it again for several days in mid September. It continues to run
precariously close to that edge and it will probably take an additional 200
beds to allow it to operate safely below the court-ordered capacity.
But there is a second, even more pressing need to have a solid
population management plan in hand. In less than six months the MEP, a
massive reconstruction project also mandated in the Consent Order, will
require that one floor of the jail be vacated with a loss of 300 to 400 beds;
this shortfall is expected to continue for the next two years. By March of
next year, then, Fulton County will need approximately 600 additional beds
to comply with the jail’s population requirements. Even if expanded
outsourcing could compensate for some of the deficit, and even if a site for
the rest of these additional beds were identified and authorized today, it
would be difficult, in such a short time, to complete the recruitment, hiring,

and training of staff necessary to open what is the equivalent of another
good-sized jail
The various pieces of a workable population management plan seem
to exist. What is lacking is the capacity to conceptualize the problem and
then persistently pursue and assemble the components into a
comprehensive solution. This may require a way of thinking and leading
that we have not seen thus far, but until it happens efforts to comply with
the population requirements of the Consent Order will continue to founder.
Inmate Releases
The timely release of prisoners is obviously one component of
managing population but it is also a particular element of the Consent
Order and so is dealt with separately here. The first requirement is that
the Sheriff provide for the release of inmates from the jail within a
reasonable amount of time, not to exceed 24 hours after the inmate
becomes eligible for release. The second is a reporting requirement. The
Sheriff must report monthly to the court and the parties the names of all
inmate detained for longer than 24 hours after becoming eligible for
release, how long they were detained after becoming eligible, and the
reason the detention exceeded 24 hours. Until recently, the Sheriff failed
to comply with both requirements.
As early as the first written report from Chief Charles Felton in May it
was evident that a whole range of glitches conspired to slow down the
release process. Delays were blamed on inaccurate or incomplete
disposition information, disruptions in the GCIC network, shortages of staff
in the records room and release station, and a need for additional
workstations as well as more GCIC lines and printers. Chief Judge Doris
Downs began working with judges and court officials to streamline and
standardize procedures.
The report to the monitor indicated that there were eight inmate held
beyond 24 hours during the week ending June 3, all but one of them
because of untimely processing of information. During the next two
weeks, however, it was reported that seventy-five inmates were not
released within the 24-hour period, with staff shortages cited as a major
reason. The need for changes to the records room and more workstations
and terminals were noted once again.

During this time, while a variety of people searched for ways to
reduce delays, there were no monthly reports to the court and the parties
as required by the Consent Order. In fairness, some staff may have
thought that the occasional inclusion in reports to the monitor of
information regarding delayed releases would substitute for the formal
reporting requirement, but a letter from plaintiffs’ counsel complaining
about the lack of reports put that misperception to rest The ongoing efforts
of court personnel and jail staff to fix the problem, bolstered by the letter
and media reports of long delays, moved the issue to center stage where it
is now receiving priority attention.
On September 12 the first comprehensive, monthly report was sent
to the monitor and the parties. It listed 36 inmates who had been
improperly held beyond 24 hours during August and listed a variety of
reasons. Although I have not yet received the monthly report for
September, interim reports suggest that the delays have been reduced
even more. It was reported that no inmates were improperly held beyond
24 hours during the most recent two weeks for which I have information.
Certainly this improvement needs to be sustained and the results
verified but I credit the efforts of the Sheriff, jail staff, court officials and
others who are working hard to regain control of this long-standing
problem. The results, though long overdue, are nonetheless praiseworthy.
Once the problem was identified the Sheriff gave high priority to solving it.
The jail’s resources were focused so that enough highly motivated staff
were assigned to the task, supported, and closely supervised; the
remodeling of workspace and the installation of more workstations and
GCIC lines was accelerated. The results, thus far, are encouraging.
Jail Admissions
Controlling intake at the jail is another dimension of population
management that deserves attention. Many believe that certain minor
offenders don’t need to be brought to the jail at all. Rather they could be
given a copy of the charges and scheduled for a court appearance at a
later date. Some contend that no one should be accepted at the jail
without a warrant and others that misdemeanants should not go to the jail
except those arrested for Driving Under the Influence or domestic abuse
and then only with a warrant.


It is not clear how much changes in admissions practices would
affect the population at the jail since most minor offenders spend only a
short time there in any case, but it would likely have a significant impact on
intake and court processing of prisoners. It deserves careful examination.
I would recommend that the Court convene a meeting of the
attorneys in this case, representatives of the local judiciary, and others
who are concerned and knowledgeable about this issue in order to seek
their advice regarding useful and appropriate actions which the Court
might take to address the matter.
Maintenance and Physical Plant Issues
General Services staff members, who are responsible for
maintenance and physical plant projects at the jail continue to be
cooperative and responsive to the requirements of the Consent Order. A
new Environmental Health Supervisor has been hired and is conducting
fair and objective assessments of physical plant deficiencies that can lead
to specific remedial action and establish a verifiable track record.
Work on replacing the grates continues as does the task of repairing
the locks and upgrading the CCTV (closed circuit television) system. The
contractors’ trailers are in place and work is beginning on the MEP
(Mechanical, elevator and plumbing) project.
No particular problems were identified in this area during this
reporting period. The next Quarterly Report will discuss this area more
Sanitation and ACA Accreditation
Although these are not specific Consent Order items, it should be
pointed out that the general appearance and cleanliness of the jail remain
good. Just prior to my last visit the jail hosted a visit from a three-member
ACA (American Correctional Association) accreditation team.
Accreditation requires the maintenance and updating of policies and
procedures that cover most of the function of a jail. The jail received very
good scores from the accreditation team and all those who worked hard to
prepare for the visit should be congratulated. The jail had been accredited

previously; visits like these are required every three years for the purpose
of renewing the accreditation
Staffing and Security
The Consent Order has several provisions that address staffing of
the jail. Specifically, it requires that the Sheriff assign at least three
officers to supervise inmates in the six cellblocks on each side of each
floor. It further directs that one supervisor be stationed on each floor and
another officer in the tower. It also requires the Sheriff to report to the
Court monthly when there are fewer than three officers and give the
reasons for the deficiency. To my knowledge, the jail has never complied
with these requirements
The centrality of staffing -related issues in the Consent Order reflects
the importance of staffing to the successful operation of the jail itself.
From the very beginning there have been vigorous discussions about
staffing and the problems related to it. In late May it was reported that
John Gibson, the former jail receiver whom the Sheriff had hired as a
consultant, had “…developed a staffing program that assigns three
officers to the housing floors.” The program was originally scheduled to
begin on June 15 but was delayed until June 28.
By coincidence, I was visiting the jail on the day the new staffing
program was implemented. Even before the program began, there had
been complaints from staff that their input was not sought or accepted and
that parts of the plan were not workable. I was aware that changes in a
tightly structured organization like a jail can cause strong reactions, so a
certain level of skepticism did not surprise me. As it turned out, however,
many of the concerns were not unfounded.
A stated objective of the new program was to ensure that there
would be three officers on the housing floors as the Consent Order
required. On the day the program went into effect I visited four housing
floors and none of them had the required number of officers. Moreover
one of the officers, who was newly assigned to the tower but had never
worked the post before, had to repeatedly ask the sergeant how to perform
various tasks. We searched the area for a copy of the Post Orders, a set
of written instructions that are supposed to be available at all posts, but
none could be found. When I visited the kitchen I found supervisory staff
that had stayed on for eight hours beyond the end of their regular shift so

that meals could continue to be prepared and delivered even with a group
of newly assigned staff who had no food service experience. I visited
other areas of the jail where there was confusion and some where I
thought there should have been more security.
I understand that problems are to be expected on the first day of a
new staff deployment program but, during the days and weeks that
followed, it was clear that there were a great many more unintended
consequences than anticipated. The jail is still not in compliance with the
three officer staffing requirement on the housing floors.
In mid-September it was reported that John Gibson had completed
an “overview and accounting of all personnel assigned to the jail in order
to determine immediate and long term staffing needs.” I was told that the
Sheriff and his attorneys are reviewing the overview and I have not yet
seen it. I have received a copy of the new “deployment plan” or roster, but
like the last one it does not reflect a relief factor so one cannot determine
actual staffing requirements for even the present operation. As noted
above in the section on population management, a different distribution of
inmates over the next two years will make planning for staffing needs even
more critical and complex.
There is still no systemic staffing plan, which combines an analysis
of the tasks to be done with a listing of the number and kind of staff
positions needed to accomplish the tasks. Once a relief factor is calculated
into those numbers (to account for vacations, sick leave, holidays, military
service, training etc.) the analysis forms the basis for recruitment, training,
deployment plans and budgeting. Despite repeated requests over the past
three months, such a plan has not been forthcoming.
Feasibility Study
For the past several months, The Facility Group, an Atlanta
architectural and planning firm, has been working on possible mid and
long -term future plans for the Fulton County Jail. While this study is not
required by the Consent Order, there are some obvious connections to
issues like population management, which are part of the Order’s focus.
Specifically, one tentative recommendations, which has been or
soon will be presented to the County Commissioners, envisions reducing
the population in the towers to about 1,800 and building a group of low
rise, lower security dormitory facilities where Bellwood and Marietta are

now located. Without getting into great detail, there appear to be some
obvious areas of mutual interest between this planning effort and the jail’s
attempts to secure “outsourcing” beds for the jail’s excess population over
the next two to three years.
I would encourage the coordination of these planning activities.
Management and Organizational Issues
While there is no section of the Consent Order with the above title, it
would be foolish and dishonest to pretend that these issues have no
bearing on the jail’s ability to come into eventual compliance. From the
beginning, there has been ambiguity about who is “in charge” at the jail.
Even projects that have been “successful” like improving the appearance
of the building and, recently, reducing release time have been
accomplished using a crisis management model that ignores (and
therefore weakens) the chain of command, which is at the heart of a jail’s
organizational structure.
I resist the temptation to analyze the organizational malaise at the
jail because such analysis is beyond the scope of this report and, more
importantly, is unnecessary. There can be (and is) disagreement about
the fairness of personnel decisions or the assigning of blame or the taking
of credit. But there can be no disagreement that all the turmoil has left
deep and long lasting scars.
I had originally thought that technical assistance and “coaching”
could help to unleash enough talent and energy among staff to build the
jail’s capacity to achieve compliance. Whether I exaggerated my own
abilities or underestimated the magnitude of the task, I now realize that I
was wrong. In that light, to continue that old strategy would be not just
pointless but could interfere with beginning a different strategy, which I
suggest below.
The jail has been a dysfunctional organization for so long that it is
not possible to fix blame and that is not my intent here. Wherever the
blame might lie, it is clear that the jail needs new leadership that can
command respect and inspire loyalty without all the baggage of the
turbulent past. Unlike assigning blame, it is easier to determining where
responsibility lies for taking the next steps. The Sheriff’s office is
responsible for the jail and whatever the decisions necessary to correct
deficiencies, they are his to make.

I was brought to this task because I have had some experience
observing what does and does not work in lots of jails and prisons around
the country. Bringing that experience to bear on what I have seen over the
past six months led me to the recommendation that follows. I offer it as a
conclusion drawn, somewhat sadly, from those observations.
It is my recommendation that the Sheriff should initiate a nation-wide
search to select a new administrator for the Fulton County Jail. The
search should be conducted in collaboration with the Board of County
Commissioners and in consultation with representatives of the local
judiciary and criminal justice community. The search should seek an
individual who is familiar with corrections and detention issues and who
has the experience and demonstrated skills to successfully manage a
large and complex organization like the Fulton County Jail. Since the
operation of the jail is the statutory responsibility of the Sheriff, he would
remain the appointing authority. It is important, however, that qualified
candidates be confident that they will have enough freedom and political
support, not just from the Sheriff but also from the larger community, that
they can function productively and in a way that is consistent with
accepted professional standards.
October 8, 2006
Respectfully submitted,

Patrick D. McManus
Court Monitor