Metro Atlanta doctors rally against city council plans for a detention center

Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 10:36 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - The fate of Atlanta’s detention center may be decided next week. But metro Atlanta healthcare workers are condemning the current proposal to lease it out to the sheriff’s office.

About 300 medical professionals signed a letter urging Atlanta City Council to reconsider its proposal that would allow the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office to use the detention for overcrowding. Some of the doctors rallied outside Grady Hospital--campaigning, ‘communities over cages.’

“It is well documented and really quite easy to observe that the root cause of crime are poverty, trauma, mental illness and addiction. And the solutions for these are accessible resources, clinical treatment and community support,” a former nurse for the sheriff’s office jail pleaded at the rally.

It is this exact sentiment that had medical physicians signing off on a scathing letter that argues the city is dealing with a mental and behavioral health crisis, not a political crisis, as it relates to Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC).

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“The best solution to overcrowding in jails is de-incarceration,” claimed another medical professional at the rally.

The doctors are backing activists who seek the facility to be turned into the John Lewis Center for Equity and Wellness.

They maintain when current Mayor Andre Dickens was a councilman, he even backed legislation in support of the new center.

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“We’re not here to try to legislate based on vibes. We want to talk about the evidence that’s going to make this city safe,” a Grady doctor added.

The group believes the sheriff and the city’s elected officials must go back to the drawing board to re-examine those housed in jails and ways to help them beyond cells.

“Jails are not mental health facilities,” explained a medical activist. Another doctor echoed, “[it’s] a cycle of homelessness, the criminalization of poverty, incarceration, coming to the clinic-- we try to heal, and then back to the street again.”

The council vote is expected Monday. The group of doctors says they will be there at 11:30 a.m. to rally.

The mayor said in last week’s meeting that he does not want the city to be in the jailing business, adding that he recognizes there is a humanitarian crisis and a need for new efforts.