Outcry over Cobb jail conditions grows louder, ACLU wants answers

Demands for change at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center are growing louder, as civil rights advocates addressed what they call "inhumane" treatment of inmates in multiple meetings on Monday.

In the latest wave of criticism, inmates and their families describe a lockdown starting in September that some say is still going on in parts of the jail today.

Doug Jenkins, who said he got out of jail on Sunday, told reporters that the only break from 24-hour confinement was a 15-minute shower.

"TVs came off the wall, phones were locked away, visitation stopped," Jenkins said. "All flow of information stopped."

That type of restriction could be a violation of Constitutional rights, according to the ACLU.

The ACLU, along with the NAACP, SCLC and other local civil rights groups, also are calling on the sheriff's office to respond to their open records requests and to provide additional details around the recent deaths of numerous inmates.

News of the lockdown further fueled angered families. The Cobb County Sheriff's Office was already under fire for the deaths of seven inmates in custody over the past 12 months.

"The way we treat the least of these is how we're judged as a society, so we need to make sure that every condition in Cobb County Detention Center as well as across the state, people are treated humanely because we are human," said Chris Bruce, ACLU's political director in Georgia.

The sheriff's office did not respond to our inquiry in time for this story, but in a statement to FOX 5's partner, the Marietta Daily Journal, Sheriff Neil Warren confirmed there was a lockdown at some point, saying it was “being used as a means to discourage dangerous and disruptive behaviors among inmates and is not indicative of being understaffed.“ The statement went on to say, “Inmates continue to have access to their mail, attorneys and all medical needs.”

"It's heartbreaking," said one inmate's mother, who would not give her name out of fear her son would face repercussions. "Like I said, they're humans, they've made mistakes, but they're not dogs, they're not animals."