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State Sen. John Albers

State Senator John Albers (R-Roswell) continues to plead with Atlanta city officials to turn the City Detention Center over to Fulton County. Albers, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety initially made his plea to the city officials last month following the committee’s second hearing. On the eve of today’s meeting, Albers made the request again.

“I would also like to, once again, urge the City of Atlanta to turn over ownership of the Atlanta City Detention Center to Fulton County,” said Albers. “This is not a political issue, but one of safety for residents of Atlanta. The residents of Fulton County should not pay $400 million plus dollars for a new jail while one exists currently.”

This is a statewide committee, and multiple hearings have been held across the state to focus on the recent increase in crime both in the city of Atlanta and throughout the state. However, a lot of the attention has been in high crime rates in Atlanta. “So goes Atlanta, so goes the state,” said Albers.

“The escalation in crime across Atlanta and Georgia starting last summer is unacceptable,” Albers continued. “Law enforcement officers and agencies need our support to protect our communities. In our legal system, it is clear we still have work to do to make Georgians feel comfortable and safe in their own communities. We can and must bring order and safety back to our citizens and support our police officers.”

Following the last hearing, Albers also pleaded with members of the judiciary to ensure that all judges are following the law established by Senate Bill 402, which requires secured bail on certain charges (and not allowing signature bonds). This came after Jeff Hamling, of the Georgia Association of Professional Bondsman, testified that signature bonds are becoming a problem in some areas. According to Hamling, his association has been collecting data in Fulton County for over four years in regard to signature bonds — from 2017 to 2021. His records show that 29,711 defendants were released on unsecured bonds during that time period– including 36 defendants charged with murder and 101 charged with rape.

The committee is scheduled to testimony from a number of witnesses in today’s hearing, including Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Also scheduled to testify are: Tim Ward, Commissioner, Georgia Dept of Corrections; Michael Nail, Commissioner, Georgia Department of Community Supervision; Dave Wilkinson, President & CEO, Atlanta Police Foundation; Jamy Steinberg, President, Georgia Fraternal Order of Police and Rita Rocker, State Board of Pardons & Paroles.

Last month, Senators heard from Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant, who said the department has been working to address crime rates and has seen some success as a result of new partnerships formed and an aggressive crime fight plan that was implemented in May. Bryant also said his department has been successful in recruiting new officers to the force lately.

The Senate Committee on Public Safety has held two hearings on the recent uptick in crime in Atlanta and across Georgia, looking at ways the legislature can work to support law enforcement and the judicial system.

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