While a broad based sentencing reform package is working its way through the final days of the legislature, Fulton County has passed its own ordinance allowing police to issue citations rather than make arrests in a few cases to cut down on costs. From Commissioner Robb Pitts:
At today’s Board of Commissioners’ (BOC) meeting, the BOC approved legislation, sponsored by Commissioner Pitts, that officially supports the Fulton County Police Department’s unwritten policy which allows police officers to use practical, real-world discretion when considering an arrest on a misdemeanor charge. The officers may, at their discretion, issue a citation in lieu of an arrest or possible incarnation for misdemeanor offenses such as disorderly conduct, juvenile curfew, prohibited noises, etc.
This past January, Commissioner Pitts called on the Fulton County Criminal Justice System to work smarter to reduce their costs – and the population of the Fulton County jail. The approval of today’s legislation was a second round in an on-going attempt to reduce recidivism as well as jail costs within the Fulton County Justice System.
Earlier this month, at the March 7th BOC meeting, the Board adopted a resolution also sponsored by Commissioner Pitts that encouraged the Justice System to consider the use of electronic monitoring (a/k/a ankle monitors) in lieu of certain incarcerations. At that same meeting, the BOC held Commissioner Pitts’ resolution to consider issuing citations for non-violent offenses, in lieu of arrests.
“With the final adoption of these two pieces of legislation, the Board reaffirms that we know we must begin to initiate a movement to stop the revolving door at the Fulton County Jail, and that we are willing to take safe, innovative and prolific steps to significantly reduce jail costs,” said Pitts.
Further, Pitts said “Responsibly issuing citations eases the financial and physical stress on both the Justice System as well as the offenders and their families, and ankle monitors allow defendants the opportunity to continue working and inhabit a more productive, less volatile and dispiriting environment while they await trial. Both solutions provide acceptable alternatives to certain arrests and incarcerations, and I look forward to hearing how these solutions are making an impact on our bottom line and the quality of life for all Fulton County residents.”
I’ll note its nice to see something rather substantive in this space rather than another position taken on banning elephant bullwhips.