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$5.3M unanimously approved by Fulton County Board of Commissioners to help improve jail conditions

The U.S. Department of Justice has asked for the case files in the in-custody death of inmate Lashawn Thompson, the family's attorney said.

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — The Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted to unanimously approve $5.3 million in emergency funding to help improve jail conditions and ensure safety.

The board and Sheriff "Pat" Labat held a press conference after the commissioners' meeting regarding resources to support the sheriff's emergency response to conditions at the Fulton County Jail.

"We took an oath of humanity, we need to take that seriously, " Labat said. "So, to have this support of a magnificent board of commissioners led by Chairman Pitts, this is a historic moment."

The funds will also help with medical care, sanitation, security cameras and more.

The investments will include: 

  • $2.1 million for devices to provide real-time tracking of detainee heart rate and blood pressure in the Medical and Psychiatric Units
  • $485,000 for Sanitizing and Clinical-grade sanitizing and decontamination of all medical and psychiatric observation units
  • $630,000 for 4D imaging of mail contents to detect narcotics and other contraband in mail sent to inmates
  • $1.1 million for 91 additional Jail Surveillance Cameras
  • $1 million for additional emergency management support with Emergency Management Services, Inc.

Additionally, the board approved $869,893 for the next phase of its Jail Feasibility study, which supports the push for a new Fulton County Jail.  

"This is a continuation of work that began in 2021 with the recognition that the Fulton County Jail must be replaced and reimagined," a release from the sheriff and board of commissioners stated. 

Earlier this week, the sheriff announced some major changes including requesting the resignations of several of the jail's staff. He also announced plans to explore the possibility of switching medical providers for inmates in the jail's custody. 

This comes after recent allegations made by family members that their relative, Lashawn Thompson, died at the jail after he was eaten alive by bedbugs and other insects. 

The U.S. Department of Justice has asked for the case files in the in-custody death of Thompson, according to Michael Harper, the Thompson family's attorney.

“We are calling for the jail to be replaced, but we also realize that what happened to the Lashawn Thompson was not a facility problem. It was a people problem," Harper said. "Those detention officers just solely neglected him and were indifferent to his needs.”

Harper said Civil Rights groups, lawyers, and the Thompson family will rally outside the Fulton County Jail at 12 p.m. Thursday, April 20, to question why it took so long for the community to learn about what happened.

“The jail has been aware of these issues for such a long time, and it's unfortunate that it took such a tragic, horrific death to get the additional funding," Harper said.

The Board of Commissioners reiterated that it will be collaborating with the sheriff "to increase community engagement and hear the voices of those with lived experiences."

"Nothing is more important than the well-being of people in our care. All Fulton County leaders are distressed by the reports of the death of Mr. Lashawn Thompson and offer our condolences to his family. Our goal is to continue to work together to ensure that such an incident never occurs again," the release stated. 

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