Letter to the Editor: Top-down review needed for Cobb jail

[Letters to the editor do not necessarily express the views of the Courier. We might agree with them, we might disagree, but they are the opinion of the person submitting them]

Dear Editor,

As Cobb residents are now aware, Sheriff Neil Warren is under investigation by the State Ethics Commission. But this is only about his campaign finance shenanigans. Judging from a storm of recent news stories from both TV and print media, we now see that Warren has been mismanaging the CADC — Cobb Adult Detention Center (jail).

Since 2004, 41 inmates have died either

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at the jail or shortly after being transported to the hospital. Simple math tells us that this record equals about 2.3 deaths per year, which seems plausible, but over the past 12 months there have been SEVEN deaths. Warren’s response is that “sadly” many inmates arrive with pre-existing illnesses and poor personal health management. Probably true. However, the sheriff has a contract with Wellstar to operate the Center’s infirmary, and together, their job is to assure inmates receive appropriate medical care and
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medications while under the supervision of the sheriff and the taxpayers of Cobb County.

Internal sources at the CADC, coupled with testimony from recent inmates and family members, tell us that the infirmary is staffed with only LPNs and one RN, who, ostensibly, communicate with a physician from time to time. We have reports of cases where inmates have been denied critical medications and even shockingly delayed emergency medical care even when it is blatantly obvious that the inmate is suffering a life-threatening event. There is testimony that a recent inmate who was supposed to be on suicide watch was inexplicably sent back to the general population where he somehow took his own life.

Yet another sign of malfeasance are the recent “lock downs” at the Center. The first system-wide lockdown came as a result of a fight between an inmate and a guard. Instead of punishing only the inmate, Warren locked ALL inmates in their cells (female inmates included) 23+ hours a day for the entire month of September. In fact one section is apparently STILL under lock down. During lock downs, inmates are not even allowed to communicate with family or their attorneys. This action, according to the ACLU, is unconstitutional.

As a consequence, in concert with Georgia ACLU, our coalition is calling for a top-to-bottom review of the CADC by an outside, independent agency. Not long ago, the Cobb County Police Department did exactly this via the International Association of Chiefs of Police and benefited greatly by it.

Signed,

Pax Riddle — Cobb Coalition for Public Safety

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