County leaders may be going back to drawing board over proposal for new Fulton jail

ATLANTA — Fulton County leaders are reconsidering building a new $1.7 billion jail because they’re running into roadblocks paying for it.

County officials said the $1.7 billion price tag is better than what the county says is the $2.4 billion it would take to retrofit the old jail.

County leaders and legislators all agree that a new jail is needed. Things are so bad inside it, that jail officials say prisoners are pulling out parts of the walls to make shanks.

However, State legislators don’t want to allow a new local sales tax to pay for it.

The only other option they’ve looked into is an increase in county property tax rates, which commissioners rejected last year.


Fulton County Commission Chair Robb Pitts acknowledged that everyone wants the same thing but has differing views on how to do it.

“We may differ as to what we see is how we go about providing for the public safety of the 1,200,000 people who call Fulton County their home,” Pitts said.

Columbus state Sen. Randy Robertson agrees that Fulton County needs a new jail soon.

“Right now, everything they are doing is keeping everything above water. But I think anyone that doesn’t believe Fulton County has to build a new jail, they’re living on a planet that I’m not familiar with,” Robertson said.

Commissioners want staff to write a new request for proposals that would need their approval before moving forward.