Audit finds overstock at Clayton jail

By Justin Boron

An internal audit of the Clayton County sheriff department's jail inventory showed signs of excess, mismanagement, and organizational problems, the audit report says.

The findings confirm some of the claims of overstock by Sheriff Victor Hill, which county officials had said were an attempt to draw attention away from the contentious firings on his first day in office.

However, County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said he did not believe the inventory was excessive, despite the appearance of words like "excess" and "abundance" in the audit report.

Given the possible use of items like paper towels and toilet paper, he said there is no problem with having the extra supplies.

Bell also said the past administration has told him the supply was purchased at a savings and sometimes taken as a donation.

Among hundreds of items counted, auditors found 10,901 inmate jumpsuit uniforms, 21,464 toilet tissue rolls, 231,000 insulated cups, 1,819 pink blankets, and 603 chess and checker sets.

The Clayton County jail has a capacity of 1,900 inmates and averages 1,300 inmates, Hill said.

One of the glaring overestimates made by Hill and his budget staff was the number of bedsheets in the jail, which sheriff officials put near 1 million.

Auditors counted 15,163 sheets.

The sheriff said the overestimate stemmed from mistaking boxes full of paper towel sheets for bedsheets.

The audit report stops short of suggesting impropriety in the excess, as Hill had done.

But it does recommend that inventory controls be strengthened and access to the warehouse be tightened.

"During the previous administration, we found that numerous personnel had keys to the warehouse," auditors say in the report. "We are recommending that only key personnel have access to the warehouse."

Former Sheriff Stanley Tuggle declined to comment on the audit.

"I've not seen it, and I really can't comment on something I haven't seen nor been a part of."

Hill said he would take the findings to the GBI to see if they were sufficient impetus for an investigation.

If not, he said he would again ask the county for a forensic audit, which would be more investigative and would search for criminal wrongdoing.

"Let's leave no stones unturned," Hill said.

The request may be a moot point though, since Bell has already said he would not support one.

"I don't see the need for it," he said. "According to our audit, no improprieties were found.

"I don't make the assumption there is a Watergate under every stone."

Bell said the county will move forward in remedying some of the problems cited in the report such as the lack of formalized controls over access and inventory.

"What has been happening in the past, and even currently, is something we recommended that we change," he said.

Some of the items will be redistributed within the county, Bell said.