Population study remains in Atlanta, Fulton jail agreement
Atlanta will keep a key provision in its agreement with Fulton County that allows the sheriff to house some jail detainees at the City Detention Center.
Driving the news: The Council rejected a proposal introduced by Council member Michael Julian Bond to not require the Justice Policy Board to conduct an analysis of the county's jail population before detainees can be transferred to the Center.
Why it matters: The decision means that the county jail will remain overcapacity until the review is conducted, despite an ACLU report that says releasing detainees who've committed low-level offenses would dramatically improve conditions.
Catch up quick: The agreement allows the county to house up to 700 detainees at the 1,300-bed Atlanta City Detention Center for no more than four years. No renewal options are included in the agreement.
- It also 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.
What they're saying: Bond, whose last-minute request to table his agenda item failed, said at Monday's Council meeting that the debate has "become mixed and muddled by people who have a litigious interest in the crisis of Fulton County."
- He said the activists who have opposed the agreement have not talked about the detainees who have to sleep on the floor due to overcrowded conditions.
The other side: Several community organizations and dozens of community activists are opposed to the agreement because it’s in contrast to the city’s vision to use the jail as its Center for Diversion and Services.
- They also argued against removing the population study provision from the agreement.
City Council member Liliana Bakhtiari said Atlanta should allow the Justice Policy Board to review the jail population to see if it's similar to a report compiled by the ACLU of Georgia.
- That report says the county can improve conditions by releasing 728 detainees who are either being held because they can’t pay bail, remain unindicted for more than 90 days, charged with only misdemeanors or could be diverted to other services.
- "It is our due diligence…to do our part to make sure that these facts check out," she said. "We don’t need to rush to the finish line on this one.”
Yes, but: Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts said in an Oct. 6 press release that the jail is in a state of emergency while some Atlanta council members are "ignoring this crisis."
- "The Atlanta Detention Center is available right now, so stop stalling," Pitts said. “Let’s solve this crisis and put politics aside.”
What we’re watching: Dustin Hillis, chair of the Public Safety and Legal Administration Committee, said the Justice Policy Board wants to present its findings at the committee’s meeting on Nov. 14.
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