Inside City Hall: Atlanta awaits mayor’s OK for Fulton jail lease

Credit: Bill Torpy

Credit: Bill Torpy

A weekly roundup of the most important things you need to know about Atlanta City Hall.

The Atlanta City Council received a new report Friday from the Justice Policy Board that provides insight into the jail populations of Atlanta and Fulton County, according to the city council’s office.

As you may recall, the report was requested by the council after the approval of an ordinance in August to lease 700 beds at the Atlanta City Detention Center to Fulton County to address overcrowding. The legislation stipulated the agreement could not take effect without completion of the study. After receiving the review, Council President Doug Shipman said report was a critical phase in due diligence.

“The council will review it and it has been sent over to the mayor,” Shipman’s statement said. “As outlined in the legislation the council approved, now that we have received this study, it gives the mayor the authorization to move forward.”

Shipman’s statement comes days after Fulton officials denounced an ACLU report that said Fulton could alleviate its jail crisis without the city center. The report said the county could release 728 detainees by improving its case processing times for unindicted individuals. The ACLU also said Fulton should reevaluate its bail system and pre-arrest diversion programs.

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

At last week’s Fulton meeting, ACLU representatives said their study was limited to Fulton jail data from one day alone, Sept. 14, 2022. The report also stated the data was taken at “face value,” as Fulton’s website asserts “no warranty is expressed or implied as to the accuracy or completeness of any information obtained through the use of this service.”

“Our report was never intended to be the final answer on solving the overcrowding problem,” said Fallon McClure, the ACLU of Georgia’s deputy director of policy and advocacy. “We would have liked to do a bigger snapshot...but we were not given the records that we requested.”

Those acknowledgements, however, didn’t protect the ACLU from hours of pushback from the county.

Many officials said the solution is to lease ACDC beds. Alton Adams, Fulton’s chief operating officer for Public Safety/Justice, called the ACLU report flawed. Commissioner Bob Ellis called it “nonsense.”

“The problem is we need adequate facilities to hold these folks as we’re going through the process,” Fulton Vice Chair Liz Hausmann said.

Fulton Chair Robb Pitts said the report’s conclusions mirror what he’s heard from county employees who visit his office. He said 10 people have died at the jail, where more than 500 people are sleeping on the jail’s floor. Commissioner Khadijah Abdur-Rahman voiced concerns over a different issue: lice and malnourishment at the jail.

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Here’s some legislation we’re expecting City Council to pass at Monday’s meeting: an ordinance to waive the city’s procurement process to do a $500,000 agreement with Live Nation Entertainment for event production services at the 2022-2023 Peach Drop Festival.

They’re also considering a $5 million donation to the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students to support early childhood education initiatives. The city will also likely use $1 million in federal funds for demolition and construction of affordable rentals at 111 Moreland Avenue, and another $421,848 in federal funds for the oaksATL Community Development to build mixed-use property at 557 Lindsay Street NW.

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The Aaron’s Company recently donated 225 mattresses to the residents who relocated from the condemned Forest Cove apartments in southeast Atlanta. The company donated in honor of its founder Charlie Loudermilk, who died in August.

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Credit: City of Atlanta

Credit: City of Atlanta

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens learned last week that his name was added to Oakland Cemetery’s mayoral monument. He presided over a ceremony for the completed rehabilitation of Oakland’s 1899 Bell Tower building.

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