Former president Trump and his 18 co-defendants in a racketeering case have until next Friday to surrender in Atlanta and be booked at “Rice Street,” the notorious Fulton County Jail, where there have been problems with overcrowding, violence, overflowing toilets and faulty air conditioning. The sheriff called the environment a “humanitarian crisis” last month when the Justice Department opened an investigation after an inmate was found dead, covered in bedbugs and lice, reports the Washington Post. The building is falling apart, a point Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat illustrated to county leaders by collecting 1,100 shanks fashioned from chunks of the crumbling walls and loading them into four wheelbarrows his deputies rolled into a meeting.
If Trump and others were to visit Rice Street, it would likely be for them to be booked, which involves a medical exam, fingerprinting and posing for a mug shot. It is not expected that defendants would spend time in a holding cell. The possibility of a high-profile visit has brought national attention to the troubled jail, near Atlanta’s hip West Midtown area. Local authorities would coordinate with the Secret Service, providing protection for Trump. The agency could arrange for him to be processed elsewhere. Seven inmates have died at the jail this year. That includes a 66-year-old man being held on a shoplifting charge who was found unresponsive in a medical unit cell on Thursday and died. “A lot of people can get lost inside these walls, and some never make it out alive, as we’ve seen recently,” said Marcus Coleman, whose group Save OurSelves mentors youth in Black excellence. The 2,500-bed jail appears well beyond its years. A grime seems to cover surfaces. Stains and dark splotches cover the walls. The flooring is worn and patchy. The jail was at 120 percent capacity in April. Advocates for inmates say the jail is mismanaged and should be scrapped.