Our country’s mass incarceration system, rooted in the history of slavery, has devastated communities of color across the country, particularly Black communities, for decades. The U.S. leads the world in incarceration, and Georgia has one of the highest per-capita rates of people under correctional control in the nation. As civil rights laws expanded access for African Americans, the criminal legal system expanded, punishment increased, and civil rights were taken away. Civil rights advocate and author Michelle Alexander describes this as “The New Jim Crow.”

The Fulton County Jail

Over the past two years, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia has worked with a growing coalition of partners across Fulton County to emphasize the need to address mismanagement and overcrowding at Fulton County Jail. 

Our recent reports, research among voters, and conversations with advocates and citizens from across the county clearly demonstrate that Fulton County residents overwhelmingly agree that too many people are held in Fulton County Jail for too long.

Constructing a costly new facility won’t address the pressing safety concerns stemming from the mismanagement, perilous conditions, and overcrowding at the Fulton County Jail. We developed three fact sheets that help shed light on the issues plaguing the Fulton County Jail system, how voters feel about those issues, and how we can fix them.

Learn more about the 2 Billion Reasons Fulton County Doesn't Need a New Jail

Jail Research Reports:

Senate Bill 63 - Georgia's Cruel Bail Bill

During the 2024 Legislative session, Gov. Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 63 into law. This bill creates a two-tiered justice system where wealth determines whether or not people languish in jail.

SB 63 is cruel, costly, and counterproductive. Research shows that sweeping people into incarceration only increases crime and taxpayer costs, and yet Georgia locks up a higher percentage of its people than any other state in the country. SB 63 doubles down on that position, forcing even more people to languish in jail because they are poor or mentally ill. We are very disappointed that Gov. Kemp has sacrificed the good of Georgia for political gain. The ACLU of Georgia will challenge SB 63 in the courts to stop it from going into effect.

Citizen's Arrest Law

Georgia’s 250 year old citizen’s arrest law (HB 479), enacted shortly after Georgia seceded from the Union, had allowed private persons to make arrests to preserve slavery during the Civil War.  The ACLU of Georgia worked diligently to repeal of this antiquated, racist, and dangerous citizen’s arrest law in Georgia which finally happened in 2021.

Policy Director, Christopher Bruce's 2021 testimony in support of HB 479, a bill to repeal Georgia's citizen's arrest law.

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