New survey finds overwhelming support for “a clean break with the history of pain and suffering” caused by the Atlanta city jail; recommendation is to raze and replace it with Center for Equity and Wellness.
(Atlanta) The People’s Plan: Raze & Replace, a new report of survey findings released today show that there is strong agreement in Atlanta for what to do with the soon-to-be closed city jail. 91% of respondents say they support the city demolishing the building and replacing it with a newly built Center - or Centers across the city - of Equity and Wellness.
“I usually favor reuse over demolition and new construction,” said one respondent. “...but this place was purpose built for one thing in mind - depriving people of freedom. Option 4 [demolish and build multiple Centers across the city] feels right because it is a dose of what Atlanta needs most. No more bigger/better/world-class... time for smaller, kinder, human-centered projects. Also - it would provide so many opportunities to include community and unleash collective creativity! Onward with option 4!”
Community groups, led by the Communities Over Cages Campaign, and the City of Atlanta have been working for years on a plan to close the jail and repurpose or replace it with a Center which can offer services, supports, and opportunities to the very people who once were detained inside. In May of 2019 the Mayor signed legislation to create the Reimagine ACDC Taskforce, a 61 person group of diverse stakeholders to guide the process. The Taskforce released its final report to the Mayor and the public over 3 months ago.
“In the Taskforce report were 4 carefully crafted proposals for what to do with the facility once it is closed as a jail,” says Deanna Van Buren of Designing Justice Designing Spaces, the architectural and real estate firm who developed the proposals for the city using data from months of community input and engagement. “Two of these proposals were to renovate or repurpose the building and two were to demolish it and replace it with a Center - or Centers - of Equity and Wellness.”
The survey shows 91% of the over 500 respondents support Options 3 or 4 which propose the city demolish the building and build either an Equity Campus - a group of smaller buildings in that same location or demolish it and build greenspace at the location and construct several Equity and Wellness Centers around the city in neighborhoods which need them most.
“We weren’t sure what the community’s preference would be,” said Ms. Marilynn Winn of Women of the Rise and the Communities Over Cages Campaign who conducted the survey along with Designing Justice/Designing Space. “But 91% is a clear mandate from the community that we should be making demolition plans as we speak. We must listen to people impacted by incarceration now more than ever. We’ve been waiting over 3 months to hear the Mayor’s decision on these proposals and we hope this report helps her make the right choice.”
“We have an opportunity in Atlanta to show the whole nation what it means to divest from failed systems of policing and jails and invest in real community safety and wellness,” said Xochitl Bervera of the Racial Justice Action Center and the Communities Over Cages Campaign. “But this work only makes sense by following the direction of community members who have been most impacted and harmed by these systems. These are the experts who know what truly renders our communities more safe.”
The report can be found at bit.ly/razeandreplace
For more information on:
Communities Over Cages: Close the Jail ATL Campaign: www.closethejailatl.org
Women on the Rise: www.womenontherisega.org
Racial Justice Action Center: www.rjactioncenter.org