Over two years have passed since Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Atlanta was "no longer in the jail business" and pledged to close the Atlanta City Detention Center. However, the extra city jail remains open today with less than 20 people processed through the 471,000 square foot building each week.
Today, a video ad was released calling on community members to contact City Council to demand the jail’s immediate closure.
The video was paid for by the Working Families Party, who are members of the Communities Over Cages: Close the Jail ATL Campaign. The campaign, led by formerly-incarcerated women at Women on the Rise, seeks to close the city jail, replace it with a Center for Wellness, Equity, and Freedom, and reinvest millions back into communities most harmed by the jail’s operation. Organizers of the campaign say the video was created to demand accountability from the City for dragging its feet on the jail’s closure, as well as expose attempts to keep the jail open backed by Councilmember Bond, failed Mayoral candidate Mary Norwood, and Fulton County Sheriff Labat.
Legislation signed by the Mayor in 2019 convened a multi-stakeholder Reimagining Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC) Taskforce, which finalized its recommendations for closing the jail to the city last year. These included design proposals for the new Center for Wellness, Equity, and Freedom as well as policy recommendations to reduce the population of the city jail to zero. But organizers say that while the city received national attention for its work on criminal justice reform, it continued to incarcerate thousands of individuals in the jail.
Women on the Rise’s Executive Director, Marilynn Winn, said, “We can no longer allow Councilmembers to crowd our jails, wasting taxpayer money, while refusing to create and expand services that will divert folks from incarceration. We demand accountability, and will not stand for more broken promises.”
“Jails do not keep us safe, we keep us safe. We need healthcare instead of handcuffs, services instead of sentences, and to prioritize communities over cages by closing the Atlanta City Detention Center immediately.”