Southern Center for Human Rights and Color Of Change Urge Fulton County Commissioners Against Transferring People Incarcerated in the Fulton County Jail to Facilities Outside Metro Atlanta
For Immediate Release
September 20, 2023
(Atlanta, GA) — On Monday, September 18, 2023, the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) and Color Of Change (COC) sent a letter to Fulton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Rob Pitts, urging the Chairman to reconsider his proposal to transfer people incarcerated in the Fulton County Jail to facilities outside of Metro Atlanta. The letter cautions that transferring people to correctional facilities in Mississippi would have severe implications for the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. It also highlights the failure of transfers without consideration of the factors that are driving overcrowding in the jail.
Specifically, the letter calls on Chairman Pitts to:
- Inquire with Sheriff Labat why the use of $2.1 million worth of wristbands has failed to prevent multiple deaths in the Fulton County Jail;
- Demand information on how Sheriff Labat plans to address severe staffing shortages;
- Consider the impact of the proposed transfers on attorney/client and familial relationships;
- Reduce the jail population by more robustly funding Policing Alternatives & Diversion Initiative; and
- Work with stakeholders to ensure that people are not held in jail simply because they cannot afford bail.
In-custody deaths have increased since Fulton County leased 700 jail beds from the City of Atlanta, demonstrating that merely changing the location of incarcerated people is not a meaningful response to a culture of neglect and inhumane treatment. “While the County continues to approve transfers and technology as solutions,” the letter reads, “neither has mitigated the harm inflicted on an incarcerated population that is mostly Black, poor and otherwise marginalized.”
The Board of Commissioners’ proposal to transfer incarcerated people to distant facilities will be expensive both in terms of actual costs as well as potential legal liability for infringing on detainees’ constitutional right to counsel. Moreover, the Board’s continued refusal to consider decarceration as an immediate solution to overcrowding suggests an unwillingness to seek lasting solutions rather than repeatedly “tried and failed” measures that exacerbate and expand harm.
The Southern Center for Human Rights is working for equality, dignity, and justice for people impacted by the criminal legal system in the Deep South. SCHR fights for a world free from mass incarceration, the death penalty, the criminalization of poverty, and racial injustice.
Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by 7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.