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Final Settlement Reached in South Fulton Jail Lawsuit

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Georgia District Court Approves Class Action Settlement to Address Unconstitutional Conditions for Women in Regional Jail.

Photo Jan 29, 10 56 00 AMOn April 4, 2022,  the  District Court for  the Northern District of Georgia approved a class action settlement to address unconstitutional conditions for women with serious mental illness held in the South Fulton County Jail. Georgia Advocacy Office v. Patrick Labat, et al., No. 1:119-CV-1634 (N.D. Ga, 4/4/2022).

Filed by the Georgia Advocacy Office (GAO), the Georgia P&A, the settlement applies to all people housed in the Jail with serious mental illness who are unable to function within the general population, due to the severity of their illness. The settlement agreement has three core components. First, the agreement requires that the prisoners who cannot function within the general population nonetheless be offered 20 hours per week out-cell-time, as well as access to drinking water, toiletries, clean clothing and access to food that is not soured, expired or moldy.

Second, defendants are required to maintain high levels of cleanliness and sanitation in the areas where class members are housed. Third, the defendants must designate specially-trained correctional staff to work with class members.

Filed in April 2019, the lawsuit asserted that women who struggle with mental health issues at the jail are placed in solitary confinement in “mental health pods” as treatment, which often makes their conditions worse. At the same time, the suit alleged that male prisoners with similar mental health issues are offered treatment in the Fulton County jail system, treatment denied to the women. News reports described horrific conditions at the facility.

sfjMany of the women at the jail are held for months at a time after having been arrested for nonviolent, low-level offenses. Some are unable to post nominal bonds, while others have been found incompetent to stand trial and are waiting to be admitted to Georgia Regional Hospital-Atlanta or a similar state hospital.

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