ATLANTA - Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed legislation that would officially close the Atlanta City Detention Center.
Last year, Bottoms called for the closing of the ACDC, citing the declining number of inmates housed there and the increase in costs to operate it.
Right now, the city jail houses about 70 to 100 inmates per night.
“It has always been my goal to close this jail," Bottoms said at a news conference, a week after she announced the plan.
Bottoms insists she isn’t getting soft on crime, but she wants to help first-time offenders before they end up becoming career criminals.
"By repurposing this jail, by reimagining what this space is, we are giving people the opportunity to access tools and resources on the front in, so they have have the tools for better decision making," the mayor said.
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Channel 2's Dave Huddleston attended the conference and spoke with activists who have pushed for the jail to close for years.
Marilynn Winn told Huddleston she was locked up in the jail for a minor offense. She created a group that lobbied to have the jail shut down.
"Most people in this jail are in here for traffic violation, spitting on the sidewalk, peeing on the sidewalk. Nobody needs to go to jail for that, and that's the first step for getting a record and the barriers fly up," Winn said.
Bottoms says there will be a place for criminals, but it doesn’t have to be a 400,000 square foot facility. The mayor is also working to find new options for the jail staff.
“Some have gone into other departments. We have had job fairs here. What we intend is our corrections staff is transition to other positions in the city,” Bottoms said.
The jail’s director Chief Pat Labat has already said he plans to run for Fulton County sheriff.
The Atlanta City Council has already given its approval. However, it will take several months to closeand a couple of years to remodel the facility before it reopens as a place to teach.
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