• Former councilwoman Mary Norwood questions decision to close Atlanta jail

    By: Dave Huddleston

    Updated:

    A former member of the Atlanta City Council is questioning a recent decision by to close the city jail.

    Channel 2 Action News reported on Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signing a resolution to shut the jail down. But some are saying that might be short-sighted. 

    Mary Norwood, who is now chair of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, talked with Channel 2's Dave Huddleston about the decision. 

    "Let's make sure we are making the right decision," Norwood said."We just want to make sure there is not an appropriate use for the jail in our criminal justice system."


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    Last Tuesday, Bottoms signed a resolution to close the 400,000 square foot jail to renovate it and use it to help people with vocational and job training.

    Norwood says there could be other facility to use for those services.

    "What are those renovations going to cost?" she said. 

    Norwood said she sent Bottoms and the council documents showing many people released from the Fulton County jail on signature bonds were actually violent criminals. 

    Bottoms said during the signing that she is not getting soft on crime. Violent criminals will go to the Fulton County jail.

    Huddleston has also spoken with Matt Westmoreland, who took over Norwood's council seat. He told Huddleston that he was in favor of closing the jail because of the costs. 

    Huddleston reached out to the mayor's office and received this comment: 

    "If giving the jail away would stop crime, the Mayor would sign it over today. But the reality is that the revolving door in Atlanta, and America as a whole, is not about a facility. It is about an antiquated belief that locking THEM up and throwing away the key will deter crime.

    Further, it is important to note that every councilmember representing Buckhead—minus one at large member—voted to approve the closure.

    The author’s taking of a contrary stance for self-aggrandization at the expense of other people’s very lives is beneath this city.

    There is one mayor at a time. The people of Atlanta elected and entrusted the one they chose in 2017 to make meaningful decisions that will change the trajectory of our communities."

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