Aug 17, 2022 - News

Atlanta approves jail lease agreement with Fulton County

Atlanta jail

The City of Atlanta has approved a lease agreement to house up to 700 Fulton County detainees at the City Detention Center. Credit: Thomas Wheatley/Axios

Despite opposition from dozens of community members, Atlanta leaders on Monday approved a controversial agreement to house Fulton County detainees at the City Detention Center.

Driving the news: City Council members voted 10-4 to approve the agreement to house up to 700 detainees for no more than four years. No renewal options are included in the agreement.

  • Council members Keisha Sean Waites, Liliana Bakhtiari, Jason Dozier and Antonio Lewis voted against the deal.

The proposal, sponsored by Councilmember Michael Julian Bond, calls for the county to pay the city $50 per detainee per day. Atlanta would also be entitled to 65% of commissary and phone fees.

  • The lease would not go into effect until a study of the jail population is done by the Justice Policy Board, which was established in November 2021 by Atlanta and Fulton County.

What they're saying: Bond noted that inmates have had to sleep on the floor at the Fulton County jail, and argued they would consider overcrowding at the facility to be a "humanitarian crisis."

  • "It really is time to do something to take care of our brothers and sisters and constituents who are held in terrible conditions through no fault of their own," he said.

The other side: Using part of the City Detention Center to house Fulton County detainees is contrary to Atlanta's vision to close the facility and transform it into a Center for Diversion and Services, opponents argued.

  • Moki Macias, executive director of Atlanta's Policing Alternatives & Diversion Initiative, which opposes the lease, said the organization's stance is about "whether we can hold on to the progress we have made and take a new approach to community safety and wellness."
  • More than 300 people who have been arrested in the last six months could have been diverted to PAD to get help for issues like homelessness, mental health crises, substance abuse and poverty, she said.
  • "You are already investing in solutions," she said. "And there is more we can do together if we stay on the right path."

What we're watching: The Fulton County Board of Commissioners also has to approve the lease agreement, which could happen as early as its meeting on Wednesday


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