Atlanta police launch program to track repeat offenders
Atlanta police will establish a Repeat Offender Tracking Unit under a partnership with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and the Atlanta Police Foundation.
Driving the news: Mayor Andre Dickens said Tuesday during a news conference that about 30% of the arrests made each week by police are repeat offenders — people who have at least three felony convictions.
- Addressing crime is a top priority for Dickens, whose crime reduction plan calls for hiring 250 police officers and other initiatives.
About 1,000 people are responsible for about 40% of crimes in the city, the mayor says. One person known to the judicial system has been committing crimes since 1974.
According to Interim Police Chief Rodney Bryant, in the last four weeks alone, Atlanta police arrested 75 people who had a combined 1,800 arrests.
- “That's pretty much a textbook definition of a life of crime,” Dickens said. “We catch them, we arrest them, we convict them, but somehow they're back on our streets and often, they're back to criminal behavior.”
How will it work: The unit will be housed at 132 Mitchell St. in downtown Atlanta and will be funded through a public-private partnership, Dickens said.
- It will be staffed by members of the Atlanta Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Department of Community Supervision.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said members of the unit will have access to each other’s files and that any time a repeat offender is arrested, that person’s file will be labeled to designate their status. Everyone who works on the case will know the offender’s criminal history.
- “We are literally giving them a scarlet letter so that the prosecutors and investigators who touch these files know that this is a case where we need to pay more attention and make sure that justice is actually served,” she said.
- She later said the program will have citizens track repeat offender cases as they go through the judicial system.
The other side: The Southern Center for Human Rights said in a statement that similar "draconian" recidivist laws at the state level have driven increased incarceration rates and state prisons in crisis.
- "If APD is planning to double down on the very strategies that they themselves have admitted do not work in pursuit of a 'solution' that keeps people behind bars longer, the effort is doomed to fail," the organization said.
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