After the death of several inmates and the booking of former President Donald Trump, the Fulton County Jail has been in the national spotlight.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne spoke with Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat about that extra attention and how the night unfolded when Trump was processed into the Fulton County Jail.
“I do believe the former president’s indictment and us following through on what we said we’d do, has shown a light on the Fulton County Sheriffs, hopefully at this point and let’s face it, that we’ll get some additional help,” Labat said.
“When he was brought into intake who was with him?” Winne asked Labat.
“The Secret Service was with him. We had a few individuals that were really stationed to make sure we were very fluid in what we did,” Labat said. “He did come in through the back. So his motorcade came in, he ultimately came out, very intentional about making sure we had the right people in place to both take the mugshot and complete the fingerprint and background as we do everyone else. He was then escorted back to the actual motorcade where his bonding paperwork was brought to him. He didn’t have to languish here.”
“Ordinarily there can be dozens of inmates in the intake area, right?” Winne asked Labat.
“Absolutely. We were very intentional about making sure the path and the facility was not just clean, but ultimately that there were no impediments to processing,” Labat said.
“Had all other inmates been cleared out of intake at that time?” Winne asked Labat.
“Yeah. Absolutely,” Labat said.
“Did he actually say anything?” Winne asked.
“Not much. I’ve said very presidential, very stoic, but in a space that you have to feel for the magnitude of the conversation, so ultimately it was a very short conversation and all business,” Labat said.
“Did he seem upset in any way that he was having his mugshot made, his fingerprints taken?” Winne asked Labat.
“Well, I think he did a press conference after that, that expressed his feelings,” Labat said.
“There was no law that said you have to mugshot and fingerprint Donald Trump, right?” Winne asked Labat.
“Not a law. But again, we process upwards of 30,000 or 40,000, and so when you violate the law and you’re accused in this case, ultimately, as I’ve said in the past, we will treat everyone equally regardless of their status,” Labat said.
“Did you have ever any regrets about the decision to mugshot and fingerprint him?” Winne asked the sheriff.
“I don’t have any regrets. I understand the weight that comes with it. I understand that I have been attacked both personally and professionally, and so we will weather that storm as an agency and personally,” Labat said.
Labat told Winne that the men and women who work for him at the Fulton County Jail shined brightly in the professional way they processed not just Trump, but other defendants accused in the election interference indictment.
He said he hopes the bright light shown on his jail ultimately leads to additional help addressing problems that go back decades, punctuated by the deaths of six inmates in recent weeks.
“I’ve said this from the time I took office, and that was we have a crisis here in the Fulton County Jail,” Labat said.
The sheriff said on Monday, the first phase of a new wristband-based inmate safety system called Talitrix, for which the board of commissioners approved more than $2 million, went online tracking the heart rates and whereabouts of 16 mental health inmates so far.
He says soon the system will cover all inmates on the third floor which houses the medical and mental health unit, and if it proves out one day, perhaps every inmate in the jail.
“As this proves to be beneficial and save lives, our plan is to put the entire facility on these bands,” Labat said.
The sheriff said as for criticism that the election indictment defendants, except for one, were processed and released more quickly than everyday suspects, he said anyone who works out a consent bond with the district attorney’s office, will get out quicker than most.