US Penitentiary Atlanta nearly empty amid corruption probe

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US Penitentiary Atlanta nearly empty amid corruption probe

A federal prison has been nearly emptied of inmates, and staff is being overhauled, in wake of an investigation into alleged widespread corruption and lax security, according to a report.

The U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta housed more than 1,800 prisoners in March, but that figure was down to just 134 as of Friday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons instituted a lockdown at the correctional facility in June, citing a “prevalence of narcotics and cellular devices being used by the inmate population” according to a memo sent to prison staff.

The phones, the report finds, were used for everything from hosting Facebook Live sessions to trafficking drugs in the outside world.

Inmates used a hole in the fence to come and go from the prison, even allegedly setting up a shuttle service to deliver prisoners to and from local restaurants.

Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta
An investigation found widespread corruption at the federal prison.
Robin Nelson

Prison staff was reportedly complicit in these operations, which were widely known among employees. Guards would often come and go with backpacks and duffel bags that went unsearched. Meth was known to be hidden throughout the prison, the newspaper said.

“I’d say 20 to 30 percent of the officers were dirty,” a lieutenant on the prison staff told the Journal-Constitution. “And that’s just totally unacceptable. You’re always going to have a few. Most prisons have one, two or maybe three bad apples. Not a quarter of the staff.”

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