READ | Cobb reports 7 deaths in its jail in the past year
Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren and his department have come under fire after seven inmates died while in custody during the past 12 months. Activists and families of some inmates say jail conditions could threaten the health and safety of inmates and a long-term lockdown of the jail made communication with inmates difficult.
Glenn Daniel, a spokesman with the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, said in a statement that the sheriff “believes in the rights of individuals to gather and productively discuss issues of their choice.”
“Freedom of assembly is a bedrock principle of this nation,” he added.
Daniel confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the facility was placed on lockdown from Sept. 27 to Oct. 25 “to discourage dangerous and disruptive behaviors among inmates and to ensure the safety of our staff and inmates.”
READ | Outcry over Cobb County jail deaths, conditions grows louder
Daniel said inmates were allowed contact with family members during the lockdown. Inmates were sequestered in their cells for nearly 24 hours a day, with only 15 minutes to shower, he said.
The ACLU says allegations such as the sheriff’s office denying visitation with family members, access to mail and personal phone calls if true, could violate the U.S. Constitution.
The ACLU has filed an open records request with the sheriff’s office for information related to its policies and procedures. They are seeking records on jail staffing, inmate numbers, use of force records and the number of complaints filed by inmates alleging abuse or misconduct.
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