County won't buy $85M Ga. prison

Inmate overcrowding an issue; Commissioners threatened with incarceration


By Johnny Edwards
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA — Threatened with incarceration if they don't make a deal soon to buy Atlanta's jail, Fulton County commissioners on Wednesday refused to be pressured and rejected an offer more than double the city's initial asking price.

Voting unanimously, the County Commission refused to pay $85 million for the city jail --- up from $40 million, the approved sales price from 16 months earlier --- and also turned down a second option to lease up to 750 beds in the facility at $103 per bed per night. Fulton has faced overcrowding issues at its county jail, leading to a 2004 lawsuit and corresponding federal order to improve conditions.

That did not placate U.S. District Judge Marvin Shoob, who gave Fulton commissioners 60 days to enter into a binding contract with the city or risk being sent to the U.S. penitentiary in Atlanta on contempt charges. On Wednesday, Shoob said he was now mulling action against the city for complicating the deal. While city officials weren't parties to the 2004 lawsuit and can't be held in contempt, Shoob said he had other means to penalize them.

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