Population study remains in Atlanta, Fulton prison agreement

City of Atlanta Detention Center. Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta will keep a key provision of his agreement with Fulton County that allows the sheriff to house certain inmates at the city’s detention center.

Driving the news: The Council rejected a proposal put forward by Council Member Michael Julian Bond not to require the Justice Policy Board to conduct an analysis of the county’s prison population before inmates can be transferred to the Center.

Why is this important: The decision means the county jail will remain at overcapacity until the review is completed, despite an ACLU report that said releasing inmates who committed minor offenses would significantly improve conditions.

Catch up fast: The agreement allows the county to house up to 700 inmates in the 1,300-bed Atlanta City Detention Center for up to four years. No renewal option is included in the contract.

  • He is also asking the county to pay the city $50 per inmate per day. Atlanta would also be entitled to 65% of commissary and telephone costs.

What they say : Bond, whose last-minute request to table his agenda item failed, said at Monday’s Council meeting that the debate had “become mixed and confused by people who have a contentious interest in the Fulton County crisis”.

  • He said activists who opposed the deal did not talk about detainees having to sleep on the floor due to overcrowded conditions.

The other side: Several community organizations and dozens of community activists oppose the deal because it goes against the city’s vision of using the jail as a center for diversion and services.

  • They also opposed the removal of the population study provision from the agreement.

Member of the city council Liliana Bakhtiari said Atlanta should allow the Justice Policy Board to examine the prison population to see if it’s similar to a report compiled by the ACLU of Georgia.

  • This report says the county can improve conditions by releasing 728 inmates who are being held because they can’t post bail, remain uncharged for more than 90 days, charged only with misdemeanors, or could be diverted to other services. .
  • “It’s our due diligence…to do our part to make sure these facts are verified,” 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 was under a state of emergency while some Atlanta council members “ignored this crisis.”

  • “The Atlanta Detention Center is available now, so stop delaying,” Pitts said. “Let’s solve this crisis and put politics aside.”

What we are looking at: Dustin Hillis, chair of the Public Safety and Legal Stewardship Committee, said the Justice Policy Council wants to present its findings at the committee’s Nov. 14 meeting.