Task Force To Contemplate Future Of Atlanta City Jail

Atlanta hopes to turn the under-used Atlanta City Detention Center into a place that focuses on training, health and crime prevention. 

The dwindling population at the Atlanta City Detention Center has the city thinking about how to best use the facility now.

A task force holds its first meeting Tuesday as the city hopes to turn the under-used jail into a place that focuses on training, health and crime prevention.

Community leaders, officials and those who’ve run the jail are among those who make up the group.

City Councilman Matt Westmoreland, a member of the task force, says he’s looking to hear from experts who’ve undertaken this kind of effort before.

“This is a huge building. A lot of the re-purposing that I’ve seen across the country have been much smaller jails and detention centers. So I’m looking forward to being at that table and starting that conversation,” said Westmoreland.

He noted that the facility’s accessibility is a point in its favor.

“If you look at it’s location right there in south downtown, it’s literally across the street from a MARTA station, it’s surrounded by empty parking lots. There’s potential there for something really transformative.”

Within the last 18 months, Atlanta has banned the practice of cash bail and ended an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house detainees. That led to the city spending more than $30 million in the last year to operate a jail that’s largely empty, with an average daily population that’s fallen to 150.

The task force meets at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Old Council Chambers inside Atlanta City Hall.