Ossoff seeks Justice Department investigation of Clayton County jail

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff has asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to launch an investigation into allegations of life-threatening conditions at the Clayton County jail.

Citing media reports of “serious human rights violations and dangerous conditions inside the facility,” Ossoff said in a letter to the nation’s top law enforcement officer earlier this month that a probe is necessary because of what appears to be a pattern of civil rights violations that jeopardize detainee safety.

“Just last month my office heard from a man who alleged that guards beat him in the showers, threatened to stun him with a Taser despite his disclosure that he had a heart condition, and transported him to a hospital when he collapsed in cardiac arrest,” Ossoff wrote.

Clayton County’s jail has been criticized for years by detainees, who describe the facility as violent and unsanitary, with feces and urine floors because of inoperable toilets. The facility and its leadership have faced dozens of lawsuits over allegations of abuse of detainees at the hands of guards withheld medical attention.

The jail’s longtime leader, former Sheriff Victor Hill, was convicted last year of violating the civil rights of six detainees by strapping them in restraint chairs as punishment. The devices can be only be used to protect a detainee from harming himself or others.

In April, a Clayton County grand jury handed down a 64-count racketeering indictment against dozens of detainees and several others outside the building on charges they acted in coordination to run the facility as a mini-criminal enterprise, with the exchange of money, drugs, weapons and bribes to keep the operation going.