Problems with jail security cameras

A FOX 5 I-Team investigation has found the South Fulton Jail Annex has had surveillance camera problems for years. The old, analog cameras did not record video, leaving what jailers call a gap in jailhouse security.

Senior I-Team Reporter Dale Russell discovered the issue after the Sheriff's office caught a man throwing drugs over a jail fence.

On January 27th, South Fulton county Jail Annex inmate Chandra Johnson picked up a jailhouse phone and heard this message:

This call is subject to recording and monitoring 

But, the clear cut warning didn't stop her.

Chandra Johnson called her friend Jerome Coggins, told him what to buy, and then directed him exactly where to go to throw it over this barbed wire fence.

Her shopping list: crack cocaine, Peach Schnapps, cigarettes, and a red lighter.

But this is what caught the FOX 5 I-Teams' attention.  During the call, Chandra Johnson made it clear she knew the security cameras couldn't record any video.

She felt no one would have evidence of the illegal drop. The call was played in court last week when Jerome Coggins plead guilty to giving drugs and alcohol to an inmate.

On the recorded phone call that was monitored by the sheriff’s department, Coggins said: “You sure these cameras back here don't work?”

Chandra Johnson replied: “No, those cameras don't work. No.”  

Chief Jailer Colonel Mark Adger knew the problem all too well. He told us for years the jail, which the county leases from the South Fulton Municipal Regional Jail Authority, had defective security cameras that wouldn't’t record video.  

“It's useless,” says colonel Adger, “It's actually useless for evidence. And, it’s not very good for surveillance.”

But as Jerome Coggins was tossing the drugs and alcohol over the fence, alert staff were listening inside and waiting outside. They arrested Coggins in the act.

Colonel Adger says after the Coggins case, the Jail Authority installed new digital cameras that record anyone in or around the jail that could cause a problem.     

Oddly, enough, Adger says the South Annex know has better cameras than his main jail.  Cameras he would dearly love to upgrade - for the safety of his staff and quality of potential evidence.