Prison reform advocates oppose proposed new Fulton County jail

Prison reform advocates oppose proposed new Fulton County jail
Advocates formed a coalition called “Community Over Cages” to protest the construction of the new jail and conditions in the current Fulton County Jail
Credit: Sarah Kallis/GPB News

The Prison Policy Initiative released a report Wednesday that argues against the need for a new jail in Fulton County. 

Prison Reform advocates unveiled the study and protested the construction of the nearly $2 billion proposed new jail and the conditions of the current Fulton County jail.

The ACLU of Georgia’s Deputy Policy Director Fallon McClure said that Fulton County should focus its resources on ways to keep people out of jail.

It’s not the building, it’s the system,” she said. “No model jail — especially the ones cited in the feasibility study — exist. We need systemic solutions, not more space to repeat the same patterns. Fulton County does not need a new facility.”

McClure mentioned programs such as more mental health care, faster trials and cite and release for misdemeanors to keep jail population lower.

Plans for the proposed new jail are on pause while the county figures out how to pay for it.

The Fulton County Jail has long been under scrutiny. Ten people died in the jail last year, prompting a state Senate investigation. Advocates for the new jail say that a new facility could mean better conditions and less crowding for inmates. Fulton County has reduced crowding rates at the main jail on Rice Street, and on Wednesday the jail was below capacity. 

But a new law will go into effect on July 1 that some say could increase jail populations, as it criminalizes bail funds and expands the number of cash-bail restricted offenses.

This story comes to Rough Draft via a media partnership with GPB News.

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