• Rapper T.I. named to Atlanta's city jail task force

    By: Raisa Habersham, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - A newly formed task force charged with finding a new use for Atlanta’s city jail includes criminal justice reform volunteers, activists, council members and rapper T.I. 

    The city announced the 25 members named to the task force in a news release late Tuesday, six weeks after deciding to create a task force to repurpose the Atlanta City Detention Center. 

    The task force will evaluate potential uses for the jail, located on 254 Peachtree St., where detainees are held for violating city ordinances and minor traffic violations.

    As part of its work, the task force will gather community input on the best new use of the jail and present recommended changes to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. 

    Rapper T.I, whose real name is Clifford Harris, has worked on similar criminal justice efforts in Atlanta, including partnering with Ebenezer Baptist Church on a massive Freedom Day Bailout and expungement campaign.

    Harris was recently awarded the inaugural Voice of the Culture Award by The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or ASCAP. 

    Earlier, this year, Harris was honored by the Georgia Senate for his philanthropic work. 


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    In all, 50 people will help determine the future of the jail. 

    Bottoms received nominations from more than 100 people before choosing 25 task force members.

    They will be joined by two appointees of the City Council: Councilmen Antonio Brown and Matt Westmoreland.

    The task force will be served by an advisory group of nine experts who have worked on criminal justice reform, plus 14 city and government employees, including Atlanta’s Police Chief Erika Shields and Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.

    The city has operated a detention center since the 1950s. In 1995, the city opened the existing location -- a $56 million facility with 1,300 beds. The jail’s population has steadily declined, but it still had 360 employees and an operating budget of $33 million in the fiscal year 2018. 

    The press release also noted, “It is a top priority of the Mayor Bottoms to put this underutilized facility to more productive use as a multi-faceted use center for wellness and healing, skills-building, economic mobility, and crime prevention for people, families and communities impacted by the history of over-incarceration.”

    Other notable task force members include Love & Hip Hop Atlanta actor and rapper Scrapp DeLeon, and attorney and former DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis. 

    Other members include: Yussif Abubakar with the Georgia Detention Watch; Attiyah Ali with A Loving Act Inc; Devin Barrington-Ward with Black Futurists Group; Jill Cartwright with Southerners On New Ground; Eugene Cooke with Grow Where You Are; Shan Cooper with Atlanta Committee for Progress; James Curran with Emory University; Derek Duncan with Trinity Community Ministries; Benjamin Graham with Motivation Forward Inc.; Shafeka Hashash with Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence; attorney Alvin Kendall; Kyle Kessler with Center for Civic Innovation; Amber Lawson with Aspire Construction and Real Estate Consulting; Atlanta resident and Steven Muhammad; Adelina Nicholls with GA Latino Alliance for Human Rights; Alexis Rhodes with Millennials for Progress; Tiffany Roberts with Southern Center for Human Rights; pastor Rodney Turner of Mount Vernon Baptist Church; Sharon Turner with Save Kids of Incarcerated Parents; Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan; Toni-Michelle Williams with Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative; and Elizabeth Wilson with Georgia Micro Enterprise Network. 

    The task force will have its first meeting from 4 to 6:30 p.m. July 16 in the Old Council Chambers on the third floor of City Hall. The meeting is open to the public. 

    This article was written by Raisa Habersham, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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