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Georgia: Deadly Fulton County Jail continues to claim Black lives

By staff

Atlanta, GA – The outrageous conditions at Fulton County Jail are being brought to the spotlight again after the death of 35-year-old Lashawn Thompson in September of last year, who was eaten alive by bed bugs and lice in his jail cell. Recent autopsy reports state that correctional officers knew about Thomas’s declining health and the alarming state of his cell but neglected taking any action.

Arrested for sleeping on a park bench, Lashawn Thompson suffered from schizophrenia and was in need of medical attention and housing. During his three months at the jail, Thompson suffered prolonged dehydration and malnutrition, and lost 32 pounds, which were all cited by the autopsy as contributing factors in his death. Despite knowing of his physical and mental health status, jail cops did not move him to the psychiatric wing until the day before his passing.

Lashawn Thompson was one of 15 people who died in Fulton County Jail in 2022. The jail is notorious for its inhumane conditions and violence from the guards. Originally built with the capacity to hold 1125 inmates, the jail now holds 3000, with hundreds sleeping on the floor and in corridors. It is the deadliest jail in Georgia.

Hundreds are being held with no court hearing or indictment. The cells are not cleaned or maintained, and mold grows on the walls. There is no running water most of the time. Inmates at Fulton County Jail, which is Georgia’s largest mental health facility, experience medical neglect and mistreatment that have cost many lives. On July 13, the Department of Justice launched an investigation into the conditions of the jail.

In early July, 19-year-old Noni Battiste-Kosoko was found dead in her cell after being denied bail for a misdemeanor. She was at the Atlanta City Detention Center, another Fulton County detention center with similar horrid conditions as the Fulton County Jail. An investigation by the Georgia Advocacy Office, which culminated in a lawsuit in 2019, showed that the detention center was dealing with inmates with mental illness by putting them in solitary confinement in cells with mold, blood and feces on the walls and floor.

The County Sheriff's so-called solution is to build a $2 billion jail to replace the current one. This plan lacks the forethought to scratch the surface of the problem, let alone address it at the root. The new facility, with its larger capacity, is bound to lead to the incarceration of more Black people in Atlanta and will be another overcrowded jail with inhumane conditions. This is not a solution; it is another problem waiting to happen.

Mass incarceration of Black people and the inhumane conditions at the Fulton County Jail are a symptom of national oppression. The capitalist class makes billions of dollars by exploiting the resources and labor of Black folks in the Black Belt South, while the people who work for that wealth live in poverty. The stripping away of democratic rights, mass incarceration, police violence, and gutting of funding for infrastructure and community services are defining features of national oppression and society in the South. Only by strengthening the Black liberation movement and dealing blows to monopoly capitalism can we challenge national oppression and the conditions that created Fulton County Jail.

#AtlantaGA #PoliceBrutality #BlackLivesMatter