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New health care provider at DeKalb Co. jail faced complaints elsewhere

Armor Health was most recently accused in Athens-Clarke County of providing inadequate health care for jail inmates, and the county did not renew its contract.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox announced Tuesday that on June 1, a new health care provider began providing medical and mental health services for jail inmates.

Sheriff Maddox said her office has contracted with Armor Health, based in Miami.

“Armor addresses a priority area of inmate care,” Maddox said in a statement released by her office Tuesday, “a collaborative, holistic approach to medical and behavioral/mental health needs.... This (Sheriff's Office) agency has a responsibility to provide the best possible care while (inmates) are here, and to treat them with dignity and respect in the process. We expect Armor Health to be a productive partner with us in fulfilling this mandate.”

Armor Health said in the statement that the company “is a leading provider of correctional healthcare services providing quality care to state and local correctional facilities across the country for more than 17 years.”

Terms of DeKalb’s contract with Armor were not immediately available.

Armor Health is the same health-care provider that other jurisdictions across the country have accused of providing inadequate health care at their jails.

In Athens-Clarke County earlier this year, Sheriff John Q. Williams convinced the commission to fire Armor—not to renew its 10-year-old contract—and sign a contract, instead, with a different health care provider.

Sheriff Williams was elected in 2020, so the Armor contract was already in place when he took office.

He said Armor had been providing inadequate heath care service at the jail, and every year was increasing the amount it was charging the county, but was not, he said, improving service.

“As we try to hold this current company more accountable,” Williams told the Commission in January, “we’re getting push-back" from the company, "and I think that we’re going to see a level of service dropping” if the jail were to stay with Armor. 

Armor Health has been accused in wrongful death complaints from inmates’ families in other states.

DeKalb County’s Sheriff is not commenting on those complaints, and Armor was not available Tuesday to respond to questions about its record.

Clarke County Sheriff Williams told 11Alive Tuesday that Armor simply wasn’t the right fit for his jail.

“We needed more and we weren’t going to pay more and still get less,” Williams said. “I wouldn't necessarily discourage DeKalb from making a different decision because I'm sure that Sheriff Maddox did her homework. We just didn't feel like we were getting anywhere near what we were paying for.”

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