FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — The controversial Inmate Welfare Fund at the Fulton County Jail is getting an overhaul after Channel 2 Action News exposed misspending.
[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]
Fulton County Commission Chair Robb Pitts is introducing a new ordinance Wednesday at the full commission meeting.
The ordinance would take control of the account away from Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat and put the money into the general county fund, controlled by commissioners.
Labat told Channel 2 investigative reporter Sophia Choi, that he’s open to the discussion saying, “There’s an opportunity to polish this legislation.”
The money comes from commissions the county makes off inmate commissary sales and their phone calls.
Through an open records request, Channel 2 Action News learned the account had $7,739,779 when the sheriff first took office in 2020. It now has $6,312,103.
- Hundreds of thousands intended for Fulton Co. inmate welfare misspent on gift cards, uniforms, more
- $5.3M approved for Fulton County Jail after family claims inmate ‘eaten alive’ by bed bugs
- Sheriff responds to claims inmate was eaten alive by bed bugs inside Fulton County Jail
- ‘We’re holding people accountable:’ Fulton County sheriff asked jailers to resign
- ‘Past time to clean house:’ Chief Fulton Co. jailers resign after family says inmate died in filth
The sheriff told Channel 2 Action News a few employees, with no criminal intent, misspent some of the money.
Our investigation showed hundreds of thousands used for vehicles, gift cards, and flowers.
“I would say that 95% of the spending (has) nothing to do with the welfare of the inmate,” Pitts told Choi.
Pitts said he’d like to use the money for inmate education or a price break on the commissary items they buy.
But Labat told Choi he’d like to keep some of the money from the Inmate Welfare Fund for emergencies.
“Especially after a decades-old building that’s in need of such repair causes such emergencies. We just need to have access to the funds,” Labat said.
[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]
Pitts said he would consider leaving some of the funds for the sheriff to use for emergencies. He recounted a conversation he had with the sheriff.
“I said give me a proposal and I’ll consider it. He said, maybe we could put, let’s say a million dollars, in that account,” Pitts said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
©2023 Cox Media Group