Alpharetta jail, closed since COVID, is set to reopen in summer

Inmates are seen using a kiosk in their cell block that allows them to schedule visits and medical appointments during a tour of the Fulton County Jail on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage/Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Inmates are seen using a kiosk in their cell block that allows them to schedule visits and medical appointments during a tour of the Fulton County Jail on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage/Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Fulton County’s north jail annex has been closed since March 2020 but is scheduled to reopen in June following negotiations between Northside cities and the Sheriff.

When COVID-19 hit metro Atlanta, the Fulton County Sheriff’s office stopped staffing the Alpharetta jail annex because the previous sheriff decided he needed staff at the county’s main Rice Street jail.

“We’ve not had a jail since,” said Alpharetta’s head of public safety John Robison.

So cops have been driving all the way from North Fulton to the main jail in Blandtown, which could be at least a 30-mile drive for some officers. That puts the precious few officers cities have in traffic instead of on patrol.

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So the mayors and police chiefs for the five North Fulton cites began to form their own jail authority that would hire an administrator to hold inmates at the 2565 Old Milton Parkway annex in Alpharetta.

But that plan has been quashed since Fulton Sheriff Patrick Labat told county commissioners Wednesday he planned to staff he jail again starting in June.

He said he’s been talking about this issue for a year. He estimates it will cost $400,000 to $500,000 to renovate the Alpharetta annex. Labat said they are recruiting from North Fulton to find staff.

Commissioner Liz Hausmann put the topic on Wednesday’s agenda, saying the cities were serious about creating their own jail authority.

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She mentioned that housing inmates up north also helps with the massive over-crowding problem the Rice Street jail has struggled with since it opened.

Robison said the Alpharetta annex can hold roughly 70 inmates, which has always been enough room for the five cities.

He said he was thankful the sheriff, who doesn’t have to keep an annex up north, was willing to work with him and the other cities.

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