ATLANTA - Fulton County’s newly sworn-in sheriff took county commissioners on a tour of the jail facility. Sheriff Patrick Labat wants to rebuild the jail from the ground up to address what is described by some as "inhumane conditions: for employees and inmates.
Commissioner Khadijah Abdur-Rahman said what she saw inside the Fulton County jail during the tour looked more like a third-world country. She gave FOX 5 an exclusive look because she believes once the public sees at what is inside the jail, they can't help but support her proposal to build a new one from the ground up.
"I saw what most Fulton County citizens have never seen, and if they did, they would be horrified," said Commissioner Khadijah. "There are inmates sleeping on the floor because of overcrowding, and the living conditions are worse than what we see in third-world countries or war zones."
Issues inside the 30-year-old facility are more than peeling paint in the annex. The commissioner noted important jail records that should be done digitally, had hardcopies stacked in cardboard boxes, haphazardly stacked in various areas. But the most horrifying find might be the egregious conditions for inmates. The commissioner said she saw overcrowding to the point that some inmates were sleeping on the floor.
"We want our employees not only to be safe but be functional. I saw logbooks that look like they were from the seventies," Khadijah said. "This is not the correct use of taxpayers’ money.
"Quite frankly, we need a new building. We are throwing good money after bad, and we keep providing band aid solutions to an ‘open-heart surgery’ condition," she said. "We have obligation to treat accused inmates fairly and humanely, and to make sure they are safe, and that the staff that is safe too."
The commissioner, who has been on the job just 40 days, called these deplorable conditions "inhumane." She said she realizes a new jail would be costly, but after her tour, she believes it is in the best interest of Fulton county taxpayers.
Sheriff Labatt said he is aware of the many problems in the jail and has asked for money to renovate it. But he certainly is on board with building a new facility from the ground up.
"We need commissioners to lead the way and help transfer the message to our communities," Labat said. "Just because someone gets locked up doesn’t mean they should be treated any less than human."
"As a Sheriff’s Office, we need to be in a space that we can do better. When we are in this space together, creating partnerships, we can then recreate what the future will look like, and that includes a new facility," Labat said.
"I heard the sheriff’s pleas to the Commission during our recent budget meeting. But now that I have seen with my own eyes? It is deplorable. At the end of the day, we need a new jail," said Commissioner Khadijah.
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