Calls Grow For Fulton County To Deal With Jail Overcrowding

Aug 7, 2019

Faith leaders and activists want Fulton County commissioners to deal with overcrowding at the county jail. A small group gathered Wednesday outside of the Fulton County government center, after speaking at the commissioner’s meeting.

Earlier this year, there were about 500 more inmates at the Fulton County jail than the space allowed for, and activists decried the conditions that kept people in solitary confinement too long. Inmates were also served food that didn't meet proper standards, activists said. 

Billy Honor, director of Faith Organizing for New Georgia Project, said the overcrowding is a reflection of a larger issue.

"We've hid behind the veneer that we are the city that's too busy to hate,” Honor said. “When, in fact, our policies say something quite different. We are a city rooted in economic inequality; we are a city rooted in the criminalization of poor people."

Some of the suggestions coming from the activists with groups such as Southerners on New Ground, included ending cash bail, releasing people who pose no threat to the public, and focusing more on pre-arrest diversion programs.

Atlanta ended cash bail last year and population at the city detention center has declined steadily. The city council moved this year to close the detention center and form a task force to decide on the best way to do that.

Jill Cartwright, with SONG, said they want the county to take the same community-based approach.

This is the latest in a line of problems for Fulton County and its jail. In 2004, the county faced a federal mandate to renovate and improve conditions at its facility.

Oversight was lifted more than a decade later.