ATLANTA - The health of an inmate played a major role in a decision to set aside charges and allow for his release.
Sonny Joe Brown is not elderly. He is just 45 years of age. But he has a serious heart ailment and is on the list to receive a transplant.
Two jurisdictions, Clayton and Fulton counties, reached a decision that the level of care he would require outweighed the infractions pending against him.
While Brown has a checkered criminal history, that history is old and has been dealt with.
Pending were a failure to appear and probation violation. Clayton County authorities informed Fulton County Jail managers on Wednesday to come pick up Brown. Colonel Mark Adger diverted the transport to Grady Memorial Hospital for an assessment.
Adger was informed Brown's condition would require constant care of up to 18 hours daily.
The Fulton County Jail commander asked judges Robert McBurney and Cassandra Kirk to intervene.
The judges consulted with the district attorney and the public defender to determine if Brown might be considered a threat. After all sides consulted, they moved quickly to drop the charges so the inmate could receive the medical care he needs.
Judge Kirk called it a compassionate release. It is something that can be done if the elements fit the practice, said Adger.
The alternative, he said, for any violent offender would call for stationing two deputies at Grady Memorial Hospital 24 hours a day if doctors determined that type of serious care would be needed.