Consultant Hired for Chatham Jail Overhaul

Consultant Hired for Chatham Jail Overhaul (Image 1)
Consultant Hired for Chatham Jail Overhaul (Image 1)

Chatham County Sheriff Al St. Lawrence will re-hire an outside jail consultant for an overhaul of the Chatham County Detention Center Administration, WSAV News 3 learned Monday.

The announcement from the sheriff will come Tuesday in the form of a recorded statement; the sheriff has not taken reporters’ questions on inmate deaths since at least Jan. 1.

Kenneth A. Ray, a Kentucky-based consultant, trumpets expertise in criminal justice, organizations and mental health in his online profile for RJS Justice Services, LLC.

Ray most recently audited jail operations at the detention center in March 2014. In the nine months following his consult, four inmates died in the custody of the jail, most recently Matthew Ajibade on New Years Day.

The Sheriff’s Office fired nine deputies connected to Ajibade’s death May 8th. Two other deputies involved in the violent confrontation had already been fired for other violations. The sergeant who tased Ajibade during the fight retired in the months after his death, as did the lieutenant in charge of the facility that night.

Ray’s March 2014 audit of the Chatham County Detention Center was critical of then-Jail Administrator Col. Thomas Wilberg, according to two sources with knowledge of the consult findings. Wilberg retired Friday, as first reported by WSAV News 3.

The sheriff, district attorney and county attorney’s office have refused to turn over jail records from the Ajibade death. WSAV and its attorneys will argue in Chatham County Superior Court that records in the possession of the sheriff’s office are not exempt from Georgia’s Open Records Law because the sheriff’s office is the agency under investigation.

No date has been set for a hearing on the declaratory judgment.

Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap announced last week she will seek criminal indictments from a grand jury next month in the Ajibade death.

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