Task force submits final report on closure and reimagining of city jail

Atlanta City Detention Center.

The Reimagining Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC) Task Force has submitted its final report to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms offering options on what to do with the city jail and related policing policies.

In support of community organizers’ call for closure of the jail, as well the declining number of daily inmates and increased operating costs, Bottoms signed legislation in May 2019 to create the task force.

The task force envisions the jail site as a multi-service center that would create housing opportunities in a range of forms – affordable housing, supportive housing, sobering beds, shelter beds, safe-haven beds, or crisis-intervention beds for people experiencing a behavioral health episode that does not require hospitalization. The space would also house compatible, revenue-generating activities that are consistent with the mission and values of the space.

The task force recommended four options for the jail property in Downtown Atlanta, ranging from changing the facade ($40 million) to completely rebuilding the site into a Center for Equity campus ($108 million). Another would create a “Downtown Anchor” ($65.4 million) that would also allow mixed-use, while the other is to completely demolish the building and transform the land into a park or memorial ( no estimated cost).

The task force is also recommending changes to city ordinances including the repeal of quasi-criminal city ordinances where the behavior prohibited by the ordinance is already criminalized by a parallel state statute; repeal of city-only ordinances related to animal control; repeal of a city ordinance regarding discharge of a firearm within city limits, recognizing other, more severe, criminal charges are now better employed to
address this dangerous behavior; repeal of open container on a sidewalk ordinance; conversion from quasi-criminal to civil of city ordinance violations relating to housing, building code, zoning, and other business and land use-related ordinances; and conversion to civil of city-only ordinances which relate to violating public park
rules and other public space violations.

“More than a year ago, I signed legislation to begin reforming our approach to public safety through a collaborative process to close and reimagine ACDC as a resource for empowering our communities,” said Mayor Bottoms. “Thank you to the members of this Task Force for your tireless efforts to ensure that all who call Atlanta home have not only a second chance, but for most, a first chance to have access to opportunity. Together, we can build a smarter and fairer system to equip Atlantans with the tools needed for success in the 21st Century.”

Mayor Bottoms’ proposed FY21 budget will include an amendment to reduce the Department of Corrections $18.9 million to $3.6 million until the jail closes; move $13.5 million and the majority of the jail staff to the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services to broaden and enhance community-based initiatives; and $1.85 million to other city departments.

The Task Force consisted of 52 members from a cross-section of individuals from the City of Atlanta, Fulton County, DeKalb County, service providers, community organizations, residents, the academic community, the business community, the faith community, public safety representatives, and elected officials.

The recommendations in the Task Force Report includes four design proposals, over 10 City and State statute amendments, and four focused service areas.

View the full report at this link.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley is the editor of Atlanta Intown.