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SCHR Responds to Clayton County Sheriff’s Continued Denial of COVID-19 Outbreak at Clayton County Jail

Yesterday, SCHR and co-counsel filed a reply brief in Jones v. Hill, a lawsuit brought on behalf of people incarcerated at the Clayton County Jail. The Defendants — Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill and associates — have claimed that there is no outbreak of COVID-19 at the Clayton County Jail, and that jail staff and administrators are making serious efforts to mitigate the potential spread of the virus. Accompanying the brief (below) are 13 declarations from detainees at the Clayton County Jail, which directly refute the Defendants’ claims. As the brief reads: “The jail described in Defendants’ brief bears little resemblance to the one in which Plaintiffs are held.” 

The declarations show that jail staff and administrators ignore detained people who report COVID-19 symptoms; fail to isolate infected people; fail to test many people (against their own medical provider’s advice) fail to provide detainees with useable face masks; fail to provide sufficient quantities of soap and cleaning supplies; and fail to enforce social distancing measures. 

In one declaration, J.J.L. describes how another man, sick with COVID-19 symptoms and unable to get help (despite his pleas) ultimately had to lie on the housing unit floor for two hours, refusing to move until a medical staff member arrived. J.J.L. later became ill with COVID-19 symptoms. He became so sick that he eventually fainted in his cell. 10 hours after a guard found him unconscious on the cell floor, he was taken to medical.

In another declaration, W.G., a 78-year-old man with preexisting conditions, describes having no functioning mask for the duration of his time in the jail, and no utensils with which to eat food. Yet another declaration details how detainees are forced to fold toilet paper in their cells into a ‘V’ (for Sheriff Victor Hill) and punished for noncompliance.

The Clayton County Jail regularly denies detainees such basic necessities as toothbrushes, feminine hygiene products, undergarments, and eating utensils.  The jail has rationed soap, even amid an outbreak of COVID-19.