Justice Reform

The City of Atlanta has taken bold steps – through both legislative action and innovative programming – to address systemic racism within the criminal justice system.

Policing Alternatives and Diversion Now Available Citywide

July 2021

The Policing Alternatives & Diversion (PAD) Initiative has expanded citywide to provide an immediate alternative to arrest for individuals committing violations commonly related to mental health needs, addiction, homelessness or extreme poverty.

PAD accepts diversions from law enforcement as well as community referrals through the ATL311 non-emergency services line. PAD response teams will travel to the area to offer immediate assistance to the referred individual, and longer-term support for those who may need it.  Services are available Monday-Friday between 7am-7pm.

Atlanta Police Department officers in all Zones may divert individuals to PAD instead of booking into ACDC or Fulton County jail, if the officer determines the law violation is related to a behavioral health need or extreme poverty.

To make a referral to PAD, residents may dial 311 or 404-546-0311 between the hours of 7am – 7pm, Monday through Friday, to speak to a live agent. If caller information is provided, the caller will receive a follow-up call within 48 hours with an update on the actions taken.

Launch of PAD 311 Community Referral Services

January 2021

The City of Atlanta and the Policing Alternatives & Diversion Initiative (PAD) are partnering to launch 311 Community Referral Services.

Beginning on Monday, January 25, residents in APD Zones 5 and 6 can call 311 regarding non-emergency areas of concern related to substance use, mental health, and/or poverty. Click here to find out if your address is in one of these eligible zones. We will add additional APD Zones over the next six months and expect to be citywide by June 2021.

The goal of 311 Community Referral Services is to address public order issues by directly engaging individuals, offering immediate resources, and providing assistance navigating social services in order to address the root cause of the concerns. This partnership advances the City of Atlanta’s commitment to public safety by investing in responses that solve quality of life challenges.

ATL311 will take constituent calls Monday through Friday, 7am to 7pm, and will dispatch PAD Harm Reduction teams or identify other appropriate social service resources. When PAD’s Harm Reduction team arrives, they will offer individuals immediate resources, transportation, and coordination of services including short-term case management and housing if needed.

PAD Harm Reduction Teams are not mobile crisis teams and do not respond to medical or mental health emergencies, but will assist with accessing these resources if the need arises when on-site. Examples of non-emergency quality of life concerns that are eligible for Community Referral Services include:

  • Disturbances (such as someone yelling outside a business or blocking traffic)
  • Welfare (such as someone asking for food or help)
  • Mental health (such as someone who appears disoriented, erratic, or is talking to themselves)
  • Basic needs (such as someone in need of shelter and sleeping outside)

For more information, visit atlantapad.org.

Mayor’s Office Presents on Justice Reform and Corrections Redeployment

January 2021

On January 21, Mayor’s Office staff presented to City Council during a Public Safety Committee Work Session to discuss a justice reform plan of action and Department of Corrections redeployment plan. The Administration’s goal is to make the city safer and more equitable by implementing some commonsense justice reforms that will align functions with current and future needs and allow closure of the Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC). To achieve this goal, Mayor’s Office staff outlined a five-point plan for reform:

1.      Expand diversion offerings and implement changes to APD policies and practices to reduce arrests for municipal code offenses.

2.      Update the city code in phases to remove incarceration as a penalty for certain municipal code offenses and place a stronger emphasis on community service.

3.      Renovate the Municipal Court to support improved booking and processing of any arrests.

4.      Build space at the proposed new Public Safety Training Academy to accommodate the needs of the PAT3 program and to support the finalized plan.

5.      Close ACDC, finalize decisions on repurposing the facility and/or land, and begin the process to implement the vision for Centers of Equity.

Passage of FY21 Budget

June 2020

The Issue

The COVID-19 pandemic created economic pressures for local and state governments nationwide, with reduced revenue projections compared to the months before the pandemic and the need to conduct budget conversations virtually.

The Solution

Despite the major challenges posed by COVID-19, the Mayor’s budget continues to increase equity across communities, expand opportunities to address the needs of our most vulnerable residents, and provide relief and recovery assistance to those affected by the pandemic. Mayor Bottoms’ FY21 Budget continues to build on her equity and justice reform agenda by:

  • Beginning the process to reprogram resources from the City jail to expand community-based services
  • Expanding the pretrial diversion program citywide to reduce incarceration and increase equity and opportunities
  • Increasing funding for the Atlanta Citizens Review Board
  • Increasing funding for the independent Office of Inspector General

As cities across the nation face challenges posed by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Atlanta’s FY21 budget reflects our Administration’s priority of equity investments in our communities. Thank you to our City Council and every City department for your hard work to ensure that Atlanta remains resilient in the years ahead.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Mayor Bottoms Announces Reimagining ACDC Task Force Recommendations

June 2020

Reimagining ACDC Task Force Recommendations

The Reimagining Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC) Task Force submitted to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms its Final Report on recommendations to close and reimagine the use of the Atlanta CityDetention Center.

The report reflects the collaborative efforts and thought leadership of local community members, stakeholders and experts who worked over the past year to develop recommendations to transformthe Atlanta jail. The facility stands to serve as a beacon of change and a vibrant hub of services that offer equitable opportunity and resources to Atlantans and communities which have been disproportionately impacted by over-incarceration and systemic racism.

The recommendations in the Task Force Report includes four design proposals, over 10 City and State statute amendments, and four focused service areas.

The Reimagining ACDC Initiative reflects a best practice model for collaborative strategic problem solving and community-driven approaches to addressing mass incarceration, systemic racism,and growing inequality among marginalized communities.

“Thank you to the members of this Task Force for your tireless efforts to ensure that all who call Atlanta home have not only a second chance, but for most, a first chance to have access toopportunity. Together, we can build a smarter and fairer system to equip Atlantans with the tools needed for success in the 21st Century.”

Legislation to Close and Reimagine Atlanta City Detention Center

May 2020

The Issue

The ACDC, located in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia atPeachtree Street NW and Memorial Drive SW, is an 11- story, 471,000 square footactive detention and arrest-processing center. Construction of the current ACDC facility occurred in 1995 and thebuilding has the capacity to detain approximately 1,300 individuals. As of May2020, the average daily population of detainees was less than 50 because ofMayor Bottoms’ and community-led successful efforts to decriminalize severallow-level offenses; launch and build out the pre-arrest diversion initiative; reformmunicipal cash bail; and end a long-term contract with U.S. Immigration andCustoms Enforcement.

The Solution

In May 2019, Mayor Bottoms signed legislation authorizingthe closure of the Atlanta City Detention Center and standing up a Task Forceto provide preliminary recommendations for the initiative. It is a top priorityof Mayor Bottoms to put this underutilized facility to more productive use as amultifaceted center for wellness and healing, skills-building, economicmobility, and crime prevention for people, families and communities impacted bythe history of over-incarceration. By converting this space, the City ofAtlanta seeks to invest in people to break the cycle of poverty while at thesame time improving public safety practices and opportunities that reducerecidivism and re-build lives.

Restriction of Records Related to Minor Offenses

December 2019

Mayor Bottoms issued an Administrative Order to establish a process to restrict the records of offenses for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana or other minor offenses from public view and would only be accessible to law enforcement for criminal justice purposes. Numerous studies have shown a direct correlation between the expungement of marijuana records and an increase in wages.

The fact remains that communities of color are disproportionately affected by the lingering stigma of victimless, minor offenses—even long after the accused have paid their debts. This outmoded practice deprives our communities and workforce of brilliant and promising minds, all because of an unfair justice system that can and will be course-corrected.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Executive Order on ICE Detainees

September 2018

The Issue

Beginning in March 2010, the City of Atlanta entered into an agreement with the U.S. Marshals Service to house ICE detainees within the Atlanta City Detention Center. In response to the Trump Administration’s enforcement of zero-tolerance immigration policies that resulted in the separation of hundreds of families at the United States/Mexico border, the Bottoms Administration temporarily halted the detention of ICE detainees until a permanent solution was identified.

The Solution

Mayor Bottoms signed an Executive Order directing the Chief of the Atlanta City Department of Corrections to take the necessary action to permanently stop receiving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees under an agreement with the United States Marshals Service.

As we work to achieve our vision of an Atlanta that is welcoming and inclusive, with equal opportunity for all, it is untenable for our City to be complicit in the inhumane immigration policies that have led to the separation of hundreds of families at the United States southern border.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Launch of the PAT3 Program

April 2018

Preparing Adult Offenders through Treatment and Therapy (PAT3) is a groundbreaking reentry program in partnership with the Georgia Department of Corrections, the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, the Atlanta Department of Public Works, and the Urban League of Greater Atlanta. The PAT3 program is available to non-violent detainees – men with children – who are near the end of their jail sentences and provides them with job skills and the financial-management tools necessary to rejoin society in a positive way. Upon their release, the program places them in jobs, with full health benefits, at the City of Atlanta.

By providing employment experience and education in essential life skills – including parenting classes and workforce readiness – we can help repair lives, reunite families and reduce recidivism.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Cash Bond Reform

February 2018

The Issue

Requiring cash bail before an initial court hearing can result in extended detention for individuals who cannot afford it, even though they have not yet been convicted of a crime. This detention can have a significant impact on people’s lives, affecting their ability to maintain jobs and their homes, especially for low-income residents.

The Solution

This ordinance eliminates cash bonds to secure release from the City of Atlanta Detention Center following an arrest for violation of city ordinances.

All too often, this system has forced destitute and low-income people behind bars for extended periods of time for low-level offenses simply because of their inability to post cash bond. The enforcement of cash bail jeopardizes family unity and people’s employment. Poverty will no longer be criminalized in the City of Atlanta.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Topics

Policing Alternatives and Diversion Now Available Citywide
Launch of PAD 311 Community Referral Services
Mayor’s Office Presents on Justice Reform and Corrections Redeployment
Passage of FY21 Budget
Mayor Bottoms Announces Reimagining ACDC Task Force Recommendations
Legislation to Close and Reimagine Atlanta City Detention Center
Restriction of Records Related to Minor Offenses
Executive Order on ICE Detainees
Launch of the PAT3 Program
Cash Bond Reform