$5.3M granted to improve conditions at Fulton County jail

Three top executive staff members at the jail recently resigned after an inmate who died was allegedly “eaten alive by bed bugs”.
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners has granted the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office $5.3 million dollars for jail improvements.
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 4:37 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2023 at 11:17 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The Fulton County Board of Commissioners has granted the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office $5.3 million dollars for jail improvements.

The announcement was made during a joint news conference Wednesday following the Board of Commissioners’ meeting.

The Fulton County Board of Commissioners and Sheriff Patrick Labat issued the following statement:

“During their April 19 meeting, the Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to approve $5.3 million in additional investments to ensure safety and security for all inmates and employees of the Fulton County Jail, as requested by Sheriff Labat.

Specific investments include:

  • $2.1 million for devices to provide real-time tracking of detainee heart rate and blood pressure in the Medical and Psychiatric Units
  • $485,000 for Sanitizing and Clinical-grade sanitizing and decontamination of all medical and psychiatric observation units
  • $630,000 for 4D imaging of mail contents to detect narcotics and other contraband in mail sent to inmates
  • $1.1 million for 91 additional Jail Surveillance Cameras
  • $1 million for additional emergency management support with Emergency Management Services, Inc.

In addition, today the Board approved $869,893 for the next phase of the Jail Feasibility study, which supports forward momentum toward a new Fulton County Jail. This is a continuation of work that began in 2021 with the recognition that the Fulton County Jail must be replaced and reimagined.

Over the last two years the Board of Commissioners has worked with the Sheriff and other Justice partners to approve additional resources for jail beds at the Atlanta City Detention Center and Cobb County Jail, for a new Joint Diversion Center, for an agreement with the Policing Alternatives & Diversion Initiative, a new Behavioral Health Crisis Center, and countless other resources. All of these investments have been designed to address the conditions in the Jail and improve outcomes for our residents.

Understanding that many issues are ongoing, the Board of Commissioners will collaborate with Sheriff Labat in his efforts to increase community engagement and hear the voices of those with lived experiences.

Nothing is more important than the well-being of people in our care. All Fulton County leaders are distressed by the reports of the death of Mr. Lashawn Thompson and offer our condolences to his family. Our goal is to continue to work together to ensure that such an incident never occurs again.”

Last week the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office addressed concerns surrounding the death of an inmate whose family and attorney claim was “eaten alive by insects and bed bugs” at the jail.

RELATED: Fulton County Sheriff’s Office addresses jail infestation, inmate death

Lashawn Thompson was found dead in a Fulton County jail cell on Sept. 13, 2022, three months after the 35-year-old was arrested for misdemeanor battery.

RELATED: ‘Culpability all around’ Sheriff on resignations, changes related to inmate death

During an executive staff meeting over the weekend, Fulton County Jail’s chief jailer and two assistant chief jailers submitted their resignations without naming them specifically at the request of Sheriff Labat.

A spokesperson for the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office told Atlanta News First that investigators are still working to learn what led up to Thompson’s sudden death.

The ongoing investigation examines details regarding the medical care provided and will ultimately determine whether any criminal charges are warranted in this case.

Fulton County Commissioners say they’re committed to fixing the problems at the Fulton County Jail to prevent anything like this from happening again.

“We are committed to those that are in our care are treated with dignity and respect,” Commissioner Marvin Arrington said.

“We hope that the expenditures today will help and this will never happen again. I hope that we get procedures in place that will mitigate any of this from ever happening,” Commissioner Bridget Thorne said.