AD BUILDS ON RECENT POLL SHOWING VOTERS OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORT “SMART SAFETY STRATEGIES” OVER INCREASED POLICE AND JAIL
The Communities Over Cages: Close the Jail ATL Campaign released a new ad today to be aired on all major local stations highlighting the need to increase opportunity as the smart way to make Atlanta safer. It specifically calls on voters to contact the City Council and urge them to close the extra city jail and replace it with a Center for Equity and Wellness.
“Public safety is issue #1 for voters in Atlanta,” says Robyn Hasan, Managing Director of Women on the Rise, the lead organization of the Campaign. “Candidates have repeatedly missed the mark. Voters in our communities want real solutions and investments, not opportunistic calls for more of the same failed tactics of the past. We challenge the candidates to do their job and represent the clearly stated needs and desires of their constituents.”
Women on the Rise has been leading the call for years to close the mostly empty city jail and replace it with a center for programs that can provide services and opportunities to those who most need it. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed legislation in 2019 to establish the multi-stakeholder Reimagining ACDC Taskforce. The Taskforce issued extensive recommendations that included closing the facility and replacing it with a Center for Equity and Wellness in June of last year. But legislation to finish the job has stalled out with the City Council.
The Campaign just released results from a public opinion poll that indicates a super majority of Atlantans (66%) support closing the city’s extra jail, the Atlanta City Detention Center, and replacing it with a Center for Equity and Wellness.
Highlights from the poll:
Asked how safe they feel in their neighborhood, 88% of residents said they feel safe.
Less than a quarter of likely voters said they would feel safer with more police officers and jails, while nearly triplethat number (71%) said they would feel safer if there was more economic opportunity and affordable housing.
64% of Black voters and 73% of young voters are more likely to support a Mayoral candidate willing to close the jail.
Facts that significantly increased support for closing the jail include:
A Black woman, Wickie Yvonne Bryant, died in an unlit cell in the detention center after she didn’t get the proper medication to treat her diabetes.
The people held within the jail have consistently been 80-90% Black, despite the city being just 54% Black.
The only people in the city jail are those accused of city ordinance and traffic violations: broken tail lights, unauthorized parking, and marijuana possession.
Currently the jail holds between 25 and 50 people on any given night, despite its large size of 1,100 beds and taking up 474,000 square feet in the heart of downtown Atlanta.
“Atlanta voters are clear they want the extra jail closed and the money better spent,” said Xochitl Bervera, an organizer with the Campaign. “As election season heats up, Council Members should know voters see the extra jail as a waste of taxpayer dollars and they should vote yes on proposals to close it. These poll results are a clear call for Council members to stop stalling.”
The survey was conducted in partnership with HIT Strategies through live phone dialing (landline/cell) with a population of 500 likely municipal voters across the Atlanta area of Georgia. The survey fielded from July 22nd - July 30th, 2021, and the margin of error is +/- 4.4% with a confidence level of 95%.