Fulton commissioners to consider lease with Atlanta on jail space

City of Atlanta proposes temporary lease of its jail space to Fulton County to prevent overcrowding. (File photo)

City of Atlanta proposes temporary lease of its jail space to Fulton County to prevent overcrowding. (File photo)

Fulton County’s leaders will review a proposal Wednesday to pay the city of Atlanta millions of dollars to lease 700 beds from its mostly empty jail and relieve the county’s over-crowded jail.

The four-year lease agreement, which was advanced by an Atlanta City Council committee last week, would let Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat move up to 700 detainees into the Atlanta City Detention Center at $50 per day for each person housed.

The city also entitled to 65% of the phone and commissary fees generated there, according to an attachment from the county agenda, and closely matches the city proposal.

These proposals comes despite activists calling for the Atlanta jail to be razed and turned into an equity center. About 50 people gathered Monday to voice opposition to the jail staying open ahead of the full council vote later in the day.

The 700 detainees break down to about 250 coming from the county’s Union City facility and the other 450 from the county’s Rice Street facility and others.

At its maximum, officials say, the deal would cost Fulton between $10 million to $15 million every year.

Atlanta spends about $16 million keeping open its 1,300-bed facility — which remains empty after Atlanta legislators decided in 2018 to nix the cash bonds that jailed many low-level offenders.

Fulton desperately needs the space because its Rice Street jail is overcrowded to the point that hundreds of inmates sleep on the floor every night.

But this lease still won’t be enough, Labat said, which is why he wants a new jail that could cost upwards of $500 million. A viability study on the new jail is set to wrap at the end of the year.

As for the lease, county commissioners will consider the proposal at their 10 a.m. meeting. The meeting is set to take place at 141 Pryor St. in downtown Atlanta and streamed online at bit.ly/WatchFGTV.

AJC staff writer J.D. Capelouto contributed to this report.

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