The U.S. Marshal Service announced last night that it will renew its contract with the Robert A. Deyton Detention Center (RAD). Our clients in pretrial detention will remain close to home after all. The cavalry (led by Chief Judge Timothy Batten, Sr., and our own director, Stephanie Kearns) has arrived. Chief Judge Batten, with the unanimous support of the Northern District of Georgia bench, recently sent a letter to the White House. He asked the Department of Justice to waive application of President Biden’s executive order ending federal contracts with for-private detention centers. We learned last night that the DOJ has granted the waiver. The USMS will immediately stop moving clients away from RAD and will return any not-yet-sentenced clients who were moved earlier this week.
And that’s not all. Two weeks ago, our own Rebecca Shepard testified before Congress about the awful conditions (for clients and lawyers alike) at the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta. You can watch the testimony from the brilliant Becca and others here. Meanwhile, the new jail administrator at USP Atlanta asked to meet this week with a working committee at the Federal Defender Program. He offered all sorts of news about the 120-year-old facility (e.g., it has been reclassified as a low-security prison), but the most useful for the moment is this: A lawyer may visit her client at USP Atlanta without an appointment (yes, you read that right!) every day from Saturday through Tuesday, and with an appointment every Wednesday through Friday. Plus, contrary to a recent rumor, the USP Atlanta will continue to hold up to 120 pretrial clients.