FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - Some have described it as one of the roughest jails in the country, but now the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office is taking part in a unique undercover experiment to make changes.
The sheriff’s office is allowing a TV crew to follow undercover civilians inside the jail, hoping it will help find answers to contraband, drug smuggling and violence on the inside.
“I have been doing this for thirty years and inmates have changed over the years,” said Fulton County Chief Jailer, Colonel Mark Adger. “We have changed our systems and organizations, but they make adjustments to the things we do different as well.”
Colonel Adger said the Fulton County Jail is one of the largest in the United States, currently at 2,700 inmates. The sheriff’s office admits that drugs and violence are common inside the jail and the colonel said one of the things they learned immediately during the undercover experiment is how drugs were getting into the jail.
“They come into the jail and drop off contraband and it will get picked up by another inmate who will drop it off at another location inside the jail,” said Colonel Adger. “And the distribution will continue until it got to the end user.”
The colonel breaks it down like this, if you were going into general population you would be strip searched, but if you were only going to spend a short time in jail you were not and those are some of the people who were bringing in the drugs. Colonel Adger said those folks were planting the drugs in different locations and an inmate worker, also known as a trustee, would pick it up and eventually it would get into the general population.
Colonel Adger said some of the people bringing in the drugs, were even getting arrested on purpose and making a profession out of it.
“They got locked up on minor offenses,” said Colonel Adger. “Brought to the Fulton County Jail, be held in an intake unit, drop off their stash and go to their first appearance court, get pre-trial release, they are back out on the streets, no harm no foul and they have managed to bring contraband into the jail.”
The colonel said now, anyone that comes into intake on any offense, even as minor as jaywalking, is strip searched, adding that this new policy has been a success.
“It’s really helping interdict a lot of contraband, I mean baggies full of marijuana, baggies full of heroin, baggies full of either crack or meth-amphetamines,” said Colonel Adger.
The colonel said if they find any drugs on people during that search, they turn the drugs over to the arresting officer and the officer can add additional charges to the warrant.