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Dozens of healthcare professionals call for closure of Atlanta City Detention Center

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens presented an idea on Monday to lease 700 beds at the city jail for four years to help overcrowding at the Fulton County Jail.

ATLANTA — Dozens of healthcare professionals concerned with a plan to lease space at the Atlanta City Detention Center to improve overDozens of healthcare professionals call for closure of Atlanta City Detention Centercrowding at Fulton County's jail had one main message Friday: "we're not letting up."

They group believes transferring prisoners from the county to city hail isn't the answer. They'd like to see the city jail turned into a community wellness center, as city leaders mentioned back in 2019.

“I've seen the effects of mass incarceration on the Atlanta community," Dr. Francois Rollin said. 

Rollin works in internal medicine and said he's seen patients whose physical and mental health were neglected while in Fulton County Jail.

“I've taken care of patients in the outpatient clinic who are unable to take needed medications while incarcerated and now struggle to integrate into primary care," Rollin said. 

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens presented an idea on Monday to lease 700 beds at the city jail for four years to help overcrowding at the Fulton County Jail.

“When confronted with hundreds of men sleeping on the floor throughout the hallways, the humanitarian thing is to do something," Dickens said.

That's a change from three years ago when former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed legislation to reimagine the detention center.

“A big reason we're here is because we're about evidence, and I don't believe that the sheriff and the mayor right now are," Emory Dr. Mark Spencer said. 

Doctors said many inmates, incarcerated on minor or misdemeanor charges, are too poor to afford bond or too sick to go to hearings. 

“There's no evidence that releasing people held pretrial because they're too poor for bail will actually increase crime," Spencer said. "That's a myth.” 

“When you invest in people and make sure that they have the things that they need to actualize themselves when they are coming out, the likelihood that they are going to re-offend or commit more crime in the community drastically decreases," said Devon Barrington-Ward, managing director for the Black Futurists Group. 

Atlanta City Council is expected to vote on the proposal next Monday, August 15, and the healthcare professionals who spoke out against it are planning on being there. 

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