After being sworn into office for his second term early Monday afternoon at the Atlanta Civic Center, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said during his inauguration speech that he was frustrated with Atlanta police arresting habitual criminals only to see them quickly returned to the streets where they again commit crime.
To address the issue of overcrowding at Fulton County Jail, Reed said he’s considering the use of the Atlanta City Jail, but called upon Fulton County officials “to do their part, too,” in helping solve the problem.
“Too often in the city of Atlanta, the women and men of the Atlanta Police Department do their jobs and risk their lives as they arrest criminals only to find that they are summarily released,” he said. “We must work together to bring an end to this practice because the citizens of Atlanta pay the lion’s share of the budget of Fulton County.”
While acknowledging crime is the down 18 percent and at its lowest level in more than 30 years, he said that random murders and armed pedestrian street crime throughout the past year have left some residents with the perception that the streets of Atlanta are not safe.
“We’ve made some genuine progress in reducing crime, but please know that without a doubt, I understand, the Atlanta city council understands, our judiciary understands, - we have to do more,” Reed said.
He later continued: “It’s not unreasonable to expect criminals who have been arrested and convicted 30, 40 times to be placed in jail and to pay their debt. … “If we successfully partner in this effort, I believe we will achieve our goal of reducing crime from 18 percent to 25 percent by the end of our second term.”
Later Monday, Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves released a statement congratulating Reed on his second inauguration, and saying “the rate of criminal recidivism remains a major issue and a major concern for my office.”
“We are addressing those issues as part of our Smart Justice Initiative that the offices of both Mayor Reed and [APD] Chief [George] Turner along with Fulton County’s Justice Partners have formed to address issues by recently identifying ‘root causes”’, Eaves said in his statement. “I welcome any additional assistance from Mayor Reed and his office in this effort. Only by working together not just as leaders but as residents of Fulton County can we achieve this goal.
“Our county is not an impediment to that effort but is addressing it every day. As we remain dedicated to resolving issues surrounding a federal consent decree regarding conditions at the Fulton County Jail, we are also embarking on creative approaches to keep our citizens safe and rehabilitating those offenders that would respond to that opportunity.”
On the topic of the City Jail, Eaves said, “Mayor Reed also mentioned use of the City Jail to alleviate overcrowding issues in the county facility, an avenue we are currently in the process of evaluating. We are open to a fair proposal in this regard, but also one that is fiscally responsible for citizens of Atlanta and all of Fulton County.
“At the time of the Mayor’s first inaugural, he expressed optimism about what we could do together as a community. Over the first 100 days of his second term and beyond, I look forward to working with Mayor Reed to make the communities of Atlanta and Fulton County safer for our citizens."