Fulton County turns to Willo Products & The Wedge to solve lock issue at the center of federal oversight, assaults, & lawsuits

For years, Fulton County officials worked to improve conditions at the county’s jail to comply with a federal consent order. But one last major renovation was required by the order – the replacement of more than 1,300 cell door locks. Because of the facility’s age, parts were no longer available to fix the old locks. Many were broken and others could be easily be popped opened by inmates. Incidents on record included repeated inmate-on-inmate violence and multiple attacks on jail staff.

Fulton’s Chief Jailer, Col. Mark Adger, knew he needed a reliable lock that couldn’t be easily broken or defeated. That’s when Willo Products went to work, engineering The Willo Wedge and tailoring it to the jail’s needs.

The Wedge, with its patented tamper-resistant and double-offset design, was engineered to be a more secure surface-mounted lock pocket than what is typically found in correction facilities. With its patented Gripper technology and a clean out port easily utilized by jail staff, The Wedge counters common inmate escape methods. A patented tamper alarm system, complete with a flashing LED indicator light and audible alarm when a door is not deadlocking properly, gives corrections officers in a locked down zone peace of mind that inmates are secure in their cells.

Chief Adger said he knew almost immediately after seeing The Wedge in action that it would be exactly what his jail needed. Next, he had to convince county officials that it was the correct technology to invest in.

“One of the things we had to do was compare our current situation and where we wanted to be with other jails in the area that were having the same problems and illustrate what the liability factor is, not having a safe and secure environment,” Adger said. In the end Fulton County commissioners agreed, investment in The Wedge was the financially responsible thing to do with the potential of lawsuits from an injury stemming from an inmate assault due to faulty locks.

Chief Adger invited local media to witness how easily the old locks could be opened with something as simple as a piece of cardboard. That’s when he issued his challenge: $20 in commissary funds to any inmate who could beat The Wedge.

“We quickly heard from [inmates] that there was nothing they could do to defeat that lock, that once that door was shut, I think one of them even said, ‘once that light goes green, that’s it,’” Adger said. He never had to pay out on his wager.

The Wedge was installed to 950 swinging door cells throughout both of Fulton County’s seven-story towers. ASTM F1450 Impact Test Certified, The Wedge is able to withstand abuse from inmates who want to damage components and render a lock unable to function properly.

Adger said confidence in The Wedge increased morale among his staff, saying, “They will have a high level of assurance that when they go into a zone that is locked down that those inmates are not going to pop out behind them and assault them.”

Two years after Fulton County officials voted to approve The Wedge, the federal consent decree was lifted and complete control of the jail was returned to the county.

Want to know more about The Wedge and how it help your facility solve similar problems? Click here to get in touch with one of Willo Products’ jail renovation experts.

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