The transfer is part of an intergovernmental agreement between Labat and Cobb County Sheriff Craig Owens. The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office has agreed to house up to 500 male inmates from Fulton at its jail in Marietta.
“This is a huge step in getting our detainees off the floor,” Labat said is a statement the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office issued Monday announcing the transfer.
According to the statement, all of the relocated inmates are fully vaccinated detainees jailed for nonviolent, misdemeanor offenses.
Fulton County’s jail was built in 1989 and has been overcrowded for decades. The COVID-19 pandemic created a backlog of court cases that sent the overcrowding to historic levels, according to Fulton officials.
Labat has pressed Fulton County officials to build a new jail with more space — estimated to cost between $400 million and $500 million — to allow for more humane treatment of the detainees.
Fulton County Commissioners on Aug. 4 allocated up to $7.4 million for Cobb to take its prisoners when Fulton’s jail system exceeds its capacity.
The Cobb sheriff’s office will bill Fulton $80 per day to house each inmate. The six-month deal expires in February and has three incremental renewal options.
Owens emphasized that Cobb County taxpayers aren’t footing any part of the bill for the pilot program. The Cobb jail houses about 1,450 inmates on average, well below its capacity of more than 3,500, jail officials said.
“I have been in constant communication with Sheriff Labat since he took office and have heard and seen just how dire the situation is for detainees in the Fulton County jail. Individuals are sleeping on the floor and in overcrowded facilities,” Owens said in a statement to the AJC on Wednesday. “We have the physical capacity and the staff in the Cobb County Adult Detention Center – thanks to an aggressive hiring spree – to alleviate this burden on the Fulton Sheriff and the detainees in his custody and care.”