WASHINGTON: Former President Donald Trump and his 18 co-defendants accused of trying to steal the 2020 presidential election are expected to be booked at the Fulton County Jail this week.
The facility is known for its poor conditions and management, and the Department of Justice is investigating the jail’s living conditions, medical care and use of excessive force.
The jail is open 24 hours a day, and the former president and other defendants could show up at any time, Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat’s office announced last week. Trump and the defendants have until noon on Friday to surrender.
Trump isn’t expected to spend a long time at the jail, but this booking process marks a stark contrast with how the former president has been processed in courthouses in the other criminal investigations he faces. Here’s what you need to know.
Jail known for extreme conditions
Inmate LaShawn Thompson, 35, was found dead in his cell at the Fulton County Jail last year allegedly with his body dehydrated, malnourished and “infested inside and out with insects.”
An independent autopsy report found that the cause of Thompson’s death was “complications due to severe neglect,” among other factors including untreated schizophrenia, dehydration, malnutrition and severe body insect infestation.
“The jail is a public health nightmare,” Terrica Ganzy, executive director of the Southern Center Human Rights, said in a statement. A report released last year from the American Civil Liberties Union acknowledged overcrowding in the prison.
The Justice Department announced it would investigate conditions at the Fulton County Jail last month after Thompson’s death. The investigation also comes after accusations that the jail is structurally unsafe, that “prevalent violence has resulted in serious injuries and homicides,” and its officers use excessive force, according to the department.
Labat told CNN that unless other authorities tell him differently, they will be following their normal practices − as if any other person were facing charges.
In a typical booking process, a defendant has their fingerprints and mugshot taken, according to Chris Timmons, a trial attorney at the Knowles Gallant Timmons law firm.
If the defendant is being taken into custody, they would be put in a holding cell, Timmons said. But defendants can have legal agreements that get them out of custody without having to post bail.
“In this particular case, I don’t expect anyone going into custody,” Timmons told USA TODAY.
The time a booking takes depends on the person, Timmons added. Taking fingerprints takes about three minutes, and getting a mugshot taken takes a minute and a half to two minutes.
“I would assume if the former president of the United States (is) coming to the jail that they’re going to be efficient − ready to go,” Timmons said.