Fulton County Commission approves deal to house inmates at Atlanta City Detention Center

The leasing deal is for four years and it allows up to 700 inmates to be housed there.
Fulton County Commission approves deal to house inmates at Atlanta City Detention Center
Fulton County Commission approves deal to house inmates at Atlanta City Detention Center(CBS46 News (File video))
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 8:31 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - The Fulton County Commission has approved a lease agreement that will allow the sheriff to house inmates in the Atlanta City Detention Center.

During a meeting Wednesday, the commission voted 4-2 to approve the deal.

The leasing deal is for four years and it allows up to 700 inmates to be housed there.

Commissioner Abdur-Rahman made a motion to table the matter at one point because she wanted more information about how the county will work over the next 4 years to make sure a lease extension isn’t necessary.

“The problem I have is that 4 years becomes 8 years. The problem I have is if there’s not an effort with APD to do diversion more as opposed to putting people in jail for misdemeanors, for loitering, for being poor, how is this in its form a solution?” Abdur-Rahman explained.

Abdur-Rahman also suggested capping to 350, instead of 700 beds but the motion failed.

“We need to have just as much of an effort to make sure individuals who can’t afford a bond or have other issues to get them out. This will become a cash cow for Atlanta,” said Abdur-Rahman.

Commissioner Marvin Arrington, Jr. also weighed in on the vote.

“There’s an immediate need. It is cruel and unusual punishment to have people sleeping on the floor. If they say they need those beds then guess what, they need those beds,” added Arrington.


On Monday, the Atlanta City Council approved to lease jail space at the Atlanta City Detention Center to Fulton County.

“It really is time to do something to take care of our brothers and sisters and constituents who are held in terrible conditions through no fault of their own, only through their case,” said Councilmember Michael Julian Bond, who sponsored the proposal.

The lease agreement must be approved by Fulton County.

The Fulton County Board of Commissioners is set to review this proposal on Wednesday.

“We are ashamed that the City voted this legislation up. This was bad legislation from the start. It still is bad legislation,” said Devin Barington-Ward, spokesperson for Communities Over Cages Alliance.

“However, this 90-day review gives us an opportunity to not have a lease that is not informed by data.”

Supporters, including Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, said this is a humanitarian move to help with overcrowding at the County jail.

The vote comes after months of public outcry.

On Friday, roughly 300 healthcare workers rallied to condemn the proposal to lease the city jail to the sheriff’s office.

“It is well documented and really quite easy to observe that the root cause of crime is 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.

Attempts by some city councilmembers to delay the vote failed on Monday.

An amendment to refer the item to the Finance Committee for further evaluation also failed.

Critical councilmembers said the proposal lacks sufficient data to guarantee the agreement is in the best interest of the inmates and in the best interest of the City.

According to the City, Atlanta’s work to develop and open the Center for Diversion and Services as part of the repurpose of the ACDC property is on track to open in 2023 and will be unaffected by this agreement.

“We are also confronted by a real and immediate crisis of overcrowding at the Fulton County Jail. Many of these detainees are Atlanta residents, and our conscience calls us to act,” said Mayor Dickens, in a statement last week.

“This temporary lease agreement will allow the City of Atlanta to play a role in alleviating this humanitarian crisis and provide the time necessary for Fulton County to develop and implement a long-term solution.”

Before the vote on Monday, there was roughly three hours of public comment – the overwhelming majority of speakers were against opening the city jail to county inmates.

Among those who spoke was state lawmaker Josh McLaurin, who has served as a member of Georgia’s House of Representatives since 2018.

McLaurin urged the city council to vote against the lease agreement proposal.

“If you care about the overcrowding, the humanitarian crisis, the council has an opportunity to send a message not just to Fulton County but to any sheriff county that does not take a burgeoning, exploding jail population seriously,” said McLaurin, during the public comment period.

“And that message is clean up that mess. We are not going to clean it up for you, not even for a minute, because it’s not our job,” said McLaurin.

Dickens said he intends to invest all revenue from the agreement in public safety, diversion services, and homelessness services.

The Council passed an amendment on Monday that binds the lease agreement to four years.