Civil leaders ask Atlanta City Council to keep jail open

Three of the most influential organizations in Atlanta have a message for the political leadership in the city.

The leaders of Central Atlanta Progress, the Buckhead Coalition, and the Midtown Alliance want the city jail to be kept open as an option to hold inmates.

Hundreds of beds are left empty every night at the downtown jail. At the same time, the county jail just two miles away is overflowing. Some inmates sleep on the floor in what resemble doggie beds.

"Right now, we got hundreds of inmates who are sleeping on the floor at the Fulton County jail and then we got an almost empty city jail that’s two miles away," said Kevin Green, president of the Midtown Alliance.

Green was joined by Jim Durrett, of the Buckhead Coalition, and A.J. Robinson, of Central Atlanta Progress, in signing a letter sent to city leaders to keep the jail as an option to keep inmates. These leaders believe "it makes sense" for the city jail to be used even if it is on a temporary basis.

The letter went to the Atlanta City Council, which on Monday, is scheduled to take up a resolution to set up a task force.

"We will lock arms on issues that we think are important for the city,’ Green said.

The Atlanta mayor said she was "disheartened" to learn of the letter sent to City Hall. Keisha Lance Bottoms said another task force is not needed. The mayor plans to turn the downtown jail into a human services facility.

She said Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat will be able to shift some of his poorest inmates accused of minor crimes to the new social services building.

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