Sheriff Patrick Labat Found In Breach of Settlement Agreement in South Fulton Jail Lawsuit
On Wednesday, January 3, 2024, a federal magistrate judge issued an order declaring Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat in “material breach” of our 2022 settlement agreement on behalf of women with serious mental illness suffering under inhumane conditions of solitary confinement. The judge concluded, “…it is clear that Defendant can do more—indeed, must do more—to meet the terms of his agreement with Plaintiffs.”
In April 2022, the Southern Center for Human Rights, Georgia Advocacy Office, and Caplan Cobb LLC settled our lawsuit on behalf of women with psychiatric disabilities being held in solitary confinement for over 23 hours per day in the South Fulton Annex. Among other things, the agreement mandated:
- at least four hours of out-of-cell time, five days a week (one hour of which must be recreation time), with an hour of out-of-cell time offered on the other two days of the week for people with serious mental illness.
- opportunities for meaningful therapeutic activities.
- access to clean drinking water, personal hygiene items, reading materials, a sufficient supply of clothing and underwear, and a quality control process so that people are no longer served moldy, spoiled food.
- training for correctional staff supervising people with serious mental illness; and
- a reliable tracking system to ensure people with serious mental illness are receiving out-of-cell time.
Lack of Compliance
SCHR and our co-counsel continued to monitor conditions under which our clients were housed at the South Fulton Annex and through their transfer to the Atlanta City Detention Center. Through painstaking investigation, including countless hours of reviewing records, data calculation, and time interviewing individuals within the jail harmed daily by Sheriff Labat’s lack of care, we were able to present clear evidence showing that:
- Not all women with serious mental illness received the required minimum out-of-cell time.
- Confusing, contradictory logs repeatedly misrepresented women’s out-of-cell access.
- The jail failed to accurately and consistently track who was entitled to the settlement’s protections.
The federal magistrate, citing this investigation and courageous statements from women in the jail, found that the plaintiffs had presented “clear and convincing evidence” that the Defendant violated the agreement’s out of cell access and documentation requirements.
This victory is not just a legal win; it’s a triumph of spirit. It’s a testament to the strength of our clients who shared their stories while in Sheriff Labat’s custody, the commitment of our co-counsel at the Georgia Advocacy Office and Caplan Cobb LLC, and the power of facts.
We encourage you to read the attached order when you have a moment.Doc.-395-Order-Granting-Plaintiffs-Mot.-for-Material-Breach