ACLU of Georgia Report – Fulton County Can Reduce Jail Population Without Building New Jail

Affiliate: ACLU of Georgia
December 13, 2023 12:00 pm

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ATLANTA—A second consecutive analysis of the overcrowding and conditions within Fulton County’s jail system by the ACLU of Georgia shows the issues still persist after decades of failed solutions.

The analysis—“Breaking the Cycle: Exploring Alternatives to a New Jail”—is based on data provided by the Sheriff’s Office regarding people detained by the County on Oct. 26, 2023. On this day, Fulton County held 3,014 people in custody, which is down from more than 3,500 individuals that were in custody when we evaluated the County jails last year. While strides have been made to reduce the overcrowding, we have determined that further efforts are required on the part of the County to prove the need for extra jail space.

“Fulton County should reject spending billions on a new jail when there is still work to be done to ensure we are not engaging in wealth-based detention and over incarceration. Fulton County’s history shows we cannot build our way out of overcrowding, and the ACLU of Georgia recommends Fulton County leaders let state law and evidence-based scholarship be our touchstone to reduce the overcrowding at Rice Street before considering any new jail building,” said ACLU of Georgia Deputy Director of Policy and Advocacy Fallon McClure.

Before entertaining the idea of a new $2 billion jail, the County should implement the ACLU of Georgia’s following recommendations:

  • Stop incarcerating people simply because they cannot afford their bond and set bonds much earlier in the court process;
  • Indict individuals within 90 days as required by Georgia law;
  • Ensure that the Atlanta Police Department institutes mandatory citation or diversion practices, instead of arrests, for any city ordinance violation or divertible offense;
  • Allow the County Sheriff to set a standing release order prioritizing certain groups for release when the jail population meets a certain threshold; and
  • Support the recommendations from the 2023 grand jury panel which was responsible for the annual review of the Fulton County jail.

A copy of the report, “Breaking the Cycle: Exploring Alternatives to a New Jail”, can be found here: https://www.acluga.org/sites/default/files/fulton_county_jail_report_2023_final.pdf

A copy of last year’s report, “There Are Better Solutions: An Analysis of Fulton County’s Jail Population Data, 2022“, can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/report/there-are-better-solutions-analysis-fulton-countys-jail-population-data-2022

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