Congresswoman Williams, Senators Warnock and Ossoff Urging Justice Department to Prioritize Investigation into Fulton County Jail

Feb 01, 2024
Press

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05) alongside U.S. Senators Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA), urged the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to prioritize its investigation into the Fulton County Jail located in Atlanta, Georgia following the latest death of an individual in custody at the facility–the first in 2024 less than two weeks into the new year. The lawmakers’ letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland pertains to last year’s announcement by the DOJ of a civil investigation into the conditions of the Fulton County Jail. According to the DOJ, the probe is examining living conditions, access to medical care, use of excessive force, and protection from violence. 

Congresswoman Williams and Senators Warnock and Ossoff wrote: 

“Michael Anthony Holland, 36, was found unresponsive in his cell. He had been held since May 4, 2023, on bond. Mr. Holland represents the seventh death at the Fulton County Jail since DOJ’s investigation began in July 2023, including five deaths in the month of August alone. In total, ten people died at the Fulton County Jail in 2023.”  

The letter asks DOJ to prioritize the investigation and devote all resources necessary to protect the rights of individuals in confinement and for a briefing on the status of DOJ’s investigation into prison conditions at the Fulton County Jail and nationally.

The letter concludes

“In light of these tragic and alarming events, we urge the DOJ to prioritize its investigation into the Fulton County Jail and devote any resources necessary to protect the rights of individuals in confinement. We also ask for a briefing on the status of DOJ’s investigation into conditions at the Fulton County Jail and at correctional institutions nationally. Our offices stand ready to assist in any way.”

Facing overcrowding and deteriorating conditions, 10 people died in custody at Fulton County Jail in 2023. In 2022, 15 people detained by Fulton County died, either at the jail or in a local hospital. 

Read the letter HERE and below:  

Dear Attorney General Garland,

We write to urge the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prioritize its investigation into the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, Georgia and to request a briefing on the status of this and other investigations into jail and prison conditions.

On July 13, 2023, the DOJ announced that it opened a civil investigation into conditions at the Fulton County Jail in Georgia and whether they violated the rights of people who are incarcerated. We were glad to see the DOJ take this step following reports of egregious conditions at the Fulton County Jail. This includes but not is limited to the tragic death of Lashawn Thompson, who was found unresponsive and covered with bedbugs in a cell in September 2022.

Since the investigation began, however, deaths at Fulton County Jail have continued. In January 2024, Michael Anthony Holland, 36, was found unresponsive in his cell. He had been held since May 4, 2023, on bond. Mr. Holland represents the seventh death at the Fulton County Jail since the beginning of the Department of Justice’s investigation, including five deaths in the month of August alone. In total, ten people died at the Fulton County Jail in 2023.

In light of these tragic and alarming events, we urge the DOJ prioritize its investigation into the Fulton County Jail and devote any resources necessary to protect the rights of individuals in confinement. We also ask for a briefing on the status of DOJ’s investigation into conditions at the Fulton County Jail and at correctional institutions nationally. Our offices stand ready to assist in any way.

CONTACT: PressGA05@mail.house.gov 

Congresswoman Nikema Williams proudly serves Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District on the exclusive Financial Services Committee. She is a champion of voting rights and builds on the Fifth District’s legacy as the cradle of the civil rights movement as co-chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus. Congresswoman Williams is committed to closing the racial wealth gap and ensuring the promise of America for all–regardless of your ZIP code or bank account.

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