Following controversy, Fulton chooses new ankle monitoring service

County officials hope to reduce the number of ankle monitors placed on people through a program meant to reduce the jail’s overcrowding.
Aerial photo shows the Fulton County Jail, Tuesday, August 22, 2023, in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin / Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Aerial photo shows the Fulton County Jail, Tuesday, August 22, 2023, in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin / Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Months after Fulton County rescinded funding for a contract to outfit jail inmates with monitoring bands, the county has chosen a new company to manage a monitoring program meant to help reduce both dangerous jail overcrowding and spending on technology.

Fulton County commissioners on Wednesday approved a $2 million contract with Marietta-based A 2nd Chance Bail Bonds to fund equipment and ankle monitoring services for the more than 1,100 pre-trial detainees.

Fulton has increasingly leaned on its monitoring program to get people out of the jail as they await trial. The number of participants grew from 886 in January 2023 to a peak of 1,518 in October, according to Fulton data.

Commissioners have since capped the number of participants at the October high. Now, Fulton’s public defenders and district attorneys are reviewing cases to see who can be removed from ankle monitors, beginning with those who have been on their monitor for more than a year, Court Administrator David Summerlin told commissioners. The goal, he added, is to get to a place where people are not being monitored for more than six months.

“We’re going to be monitoring the monitors,” Summerlin said.

Commissioners Wednesday also approved an extension of the current provider’s, A&A All County Monitoring, contract through May as the county transitions to A 2nd Chance.

The rebid comes months after commissioners accused A&A’s parent company, Alpharetta-based Talitrix, of underdelivering on a separate $2.1 million contract it had with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.

Talitrix had contracted with the sheriff in April to deploy GPS-tracking wristbands throughout the Fulton County Jail to improve safety. Months later, several commissioners were alarmed to learn just 15 of the 1,000 wristbands had been deployed. The controversy heated when information emerged that Talitrix, led by Forsyth resident Justin Hawkins and state Rep. Todd Jones, and its affiliates donated tens of thousands of dollars to Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labats campaign.

In October the commission voted to rescind the $2.1 million it had allocated for the contract.

Talitrix said the slow pace of the sheriff’s cleaning and repair plan for the jail delayed installation of the company’s infrastructure.

A&A sought the new ankle monitoring contract, but during Wednesday’s meeting, Fulton chief purchasing agent Felicia Strong-Whitaker told the commission A&A had been temporarily disqualified last week after a representative from the company reached out to a county official in violation of the county’s no-contact rule during the proposal process.

Strong-Whitaker said that while a portion of the company’s email inquired about outstanding invoices, which does not violate the rule, part of the message spoke to the current request for proposal process.

However, she said the disqualification was reversed on Tuesday. That decision was made in part because Talitrix told Strong-Whitaker the company’s participation in the transition process depended on whether the county would reconsider the Talitrix’s disqualification.

A Talitrix spokesperson denied Strong-Whitaker’s allegation.

In a written statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a Talitrix spokesperson said Strong-Whitaker had advised the company to reach out to Summerlin regarding the invoices. The spokesperson said the decision amounted to “bid rigging” and accused unnamed members of the Fulton County Commission of “political payback.” The company said it is considering all legal remedies, including an appeal.

“More than 100 other jurisdictions in Georgia and the Southeast have selected Talitrix for our incomparable monitoring services, the hallmark of which is our exceptional hardware and software,” the statement says.

Regardless of whether Talitrix was disqualified, Strong-Whitaker told commissioners A 2nd Chance Bail Bonds won the contract based on the technical merits of its proposal.

— Staff writer Jim Gaines contributed reporting for this story.

This story has been updated to include an additional comment from Talitrix.