In an effort to curb recidivism and cultivate spaces for community empowerment, the city of Atlanta is moving forward with its efforts to transform the Atlanta City Detention Center into a space for justice and equity, Fast Company reported.
Plans for the reimagined center have been in the works for over a year, but the need for it has been pushed to the forefront amid demands to defund the police and use the money to invest in programs and resources for underserved communities. The correctional facility, which houses inmates who have committed low-level crimes, will be converted into a space that will encompass programs centered on recidivism, mental health and wellness and urban farming. It will also include housing and spaces for education.
The Reimagining Atlanta City Detention Center(ACDC) Task Force—a collective of elected officials, community leaders, business owners, faith leaders and residents—recently submitted its finalized recommendations for the jail’s transformation to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Mayor Bottoms believes the new center will be instrumental in leveling the playing field for communities who have been significantly impacted by systemic injustices.
“More than a year ago, I signed legislation to begin reforming our approach to public safety through a collaborative process to close and reimagine ACDC as a resource for empowering our communities,” Mayor Bottoms said in a statement, according to Atlanta Daily World. “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 to opportunity. Together, we can build a smarter and fairer system to equip Atlantans with the tools needed for success in the 21st Century.”
The design firm Designing Justice + Designing Spaces has been enlisted to reimagine the space. “What we had before and have today is an architecture of oppression, built on the backs of slaves and the bodies of prisoners,” read a written statement from the team. “Now we are in a moment of protest and listening. What we will need is an architecture of liberation.”
Mayor Bottoms has been a fierce advocate for criminal justice reform. She eliminated cash bonds and her proposed FY21 budget includes reducing the Department of Corrections budget from $18.9 million to $3.6 million until the jail is shuttered.