Fulton County Commissioners will meet with Atlanta City Council on Wednesday morning to come up with a plan to alleviate overcrowding at the Fulton County Jail. The facility has been at the center of an outpouring of concerns regarding concerns about the health and well-being of people being housed at the facility.
Plans to reduce the jail’s population by 1,000 inmates include moving hundreds of those incarcerated to the Atlanta City Jail as well as facilities in South Georgia and Mississippi. However, opponents of the controversial move filed an amended emergency petition on Monday in Fulton County Superior Court in hopes of preventing Sheriff Pat Labat from shipping hundreds of detainees out of state.
The horror stories emanating from detainees and visitors to the Rice Street facility continue to surface amid a string of inmate deaths. In a five-week span, there have been a reported six deaths – the last being a 24-year-old inmate who was found unresponsive in his cell on Aug. 31.
Following the nationally publicized death of an inmate, LaShawn Thompson, who was apparently eaten alive by bed bugs, legislators and civic organizations have lobbied to improve conditions at the jail and reduce the number of people in detention.
A number of local officials have repeatedly called for an investigation into the jails conditions and several have recommended closing the facility altogether due to inhumane treatment of inmates housed there, many of who have not been convicted of any crime.
Last week, a coalition of civic groups and advocacy organizations sent a letter to Fulton County executives, Atlanta officials, Sheriff Patrick “Pat” Labat, and chief judges about the jail’s horrid conditions.
The letter reiterated the group’s opposition to Sheriff Labatt’s request for an additional $27 million dollars to keep the jail running without any accountability for addressing the systemic issues.
To date, the advocacy organizations have not received a response to the demands included in the letter.
The American Civil Liberties Union suggested officials explore reducing the jail population through alternatives such as pre-arrest diversion programs for people experiencing poverty, mental health concerns, and substance use.