Fulton sheriff set to make multimillion asks at Wednesday meeting

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office is slated ask the county’s elected commissioners for roughly $35 million Wednesday.

The requests from Sheriff Patrick Labat’s office consists of $6.2 million to address overtime and inflation, for things like fuel and food. The sheriff also wants to renew a $27 million contract with NaphCare — the firm that provides medical care at the jail.

A review from the Sheriff Office’s own program manager gave a grade of “good” to the quality of services provided by NaphCare. Customer satisfaction was graded “poor,” and the other three categories earned a score of “satisfactory.”

Concern about private firms providing medical care to Georgia’s incarcerated people has always existed, but it has only worsened within the last two years.

Fulton’s contract with Naphcare was last renewed in December, for about $1 million less — putting the county about halfway through its nearly decade-long contract, which requires regular renewal.

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The county’s head of public safety Alton Adams told commissioners in December that NaphCare wasn’t immune from the national struggle to retain a workforce, according to the meeting’s minutes.

NaphCare had a turnover of 28% in 2020 and a 40% turnover in 2021, he said.

“They’re doing as well as we can expect in the environment we’re in,” he said.

That environment is a jail already over-crowded to the point that hundreds of inmates sleep on the ground every night. Then came COVID-19, forcing courts to shut down to reduce the spread of the virus. That worsened the overcrowding by creating a court backlog that will take years to clear.

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Labat wasted little time after being sworn in by telling commissioners he needed a jail that’ll cost anywhere between $400-$500 million to treat people in a humane fashion. Commissioners in January approved a $1.2 million study reviewing the prospect of a new jail. Officials have maintained that the study would be done by the end of the year.

Both the inflation request and the contract renewal are on Wednesday’s meeting agenda.

Commission meetings begin at 10 a.m. at the assembly hall inside Fulton’s government center at 141 Pryor St. in downtown Atlanta. The proceedings should also be streamed at http://bit.ly/WatchFGTV.