Atlanta mayor can legally let Fulton County sheriff use city jail, sources say

Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat can make firm plans to begin moving some of his inmates to the city of Atlanta jail in Downtown.

A source familiar with the on-again, off-again talks tells FOX 5 the Atlanta City Attorney has advised Mayor Andre Dickens he does not need to wait to allow the pact between Fulton County and the city to start. 

For months, the Fulton County sheriff has said he needs help to get hundreds of inmates off the floor due to overcrowded conditions

FOX 5 has reported on violence the sheriff has linked to conditions inside his facility in northwest Atlanta.

The volatile safety situation is not his only concern. There have been periodic outbreaks of lice and other unsanitary conditions threatening the health of inmates as well as staff. 

The Atlanta mayor agreed in the summer to allow Fulton County to rent up to 700 cell beds each day. Some council members, who generally want to reduce overall incarceration rates, amended the agreement legislation asking for a delay of 90 days for a population study to be done.

However, that study has yet to be delivered. The research that councilwoman Keisha Waites and others have been waiting for has been questioned. Critics say it is not based on current crime and justice data.

In fact, the research is being reworked, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

As for right now, the 90-day period for research is over and Mayor Dickens can give Sheriff Labat the keys to the downtown jail.