FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: George Chidi
Atlanta Downtown Improvement District
DOWNTOWN IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT SUPPORTS ATLANTA-FULTON COUNTY PRE-ARREST DIVERSION INITIATIVE
ATLANTA, April 5, 2017 – The Atlanta Downtown Improvement District has made a grant of $50,000 to support the start of the Atlanta-Fulton County Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative.
The initiative is an innovative pilot program partnering law enforcement and social service providers to divert people out of local jails and into case management and services.
“Our goal is to improve public safety and quality of life in Midtown, the Old Fourth Ward and South Downtown while providing a pathway to recovery and support for individuals struggling with mental health, substance addiction or extreme poverty,” said A.J. Robinson, President of Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District.
This grant supports startup funding for the initiative, in anticipation of further financial support from local and national partners like the City of Atlanta and Fulton County government.
“We are thrilled that the pilot has received this seed investment from Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, as well as from our city and county governments and philanthropic partners,” said Moki Macías, Acting Director for the PAD Initiative. “The success of the program will depend on high quality training, care coordination, and services, and it is partnerships like this that will make it possible.”
Pre-arrest diversion will allow an officer with probable cause to make an arrest to instead divert the case away from booking, jail and prosecution and toward high-quality treatment and support. Instead of arrest, a Care Navigator will come directly to the scene to determine the services the person needs.
A wide-ranging panel of local experts from law enforcement, social services agencies, courts, and the business community – including ADID – designed the program to address Atlantans with deep social problems and a high rate of recidivism – people repeatedly and expensively filling the city jail after arrests for quality-of-life crimes like public urination or disorderly conduct.
Pre-arrest diversion differs from other costly court-based diversion programs because it takes place before booking, court, or jail, saving money and preventing another arrest accumulating on the record of people who need treatment more than jail.
“With PAD, individuals who would otherwise be arrested are connected to support and resources right when they need it most. PAD Care Navigators provide the critical link between police officers on the beat and social service providers offering housing, mental health services, drug treatment and job placement,” Macias said. “By intervening at the time of arrest, we can address quality of life concerns as they arise, while improving the lives of people who are committing crimes to survive. We don’t expect instant results, but we do expect to significantly improve quality of life over time – for everyone who calls these communities home.”
Initiative leaders expect the pilot to begin diversion this summer, with a goal of diverting 100 people from arrest in the first year. Success will mean an opportunity to expand the program to other Atlanta neighborhoods.
About the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District
Founded in 1995 by Central Atlanta Progress, the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District is a public-private partnership that strives to create a livable environment for Downtown Atlanta. With a board of directors of nine private- and public-sector leaders, ADID is funded through a community improvement district. The District currently contains 220 blocks within an area generally bounded by North Avenue on the north, Memorial Drive on the south, Piedmont Avenue and the Downtown Connector on the east, and the Norfolk-Southern rail line on the west, but providing services all the way to Northside Drive.
About Central Atlanta Progress
Founded in 1941, Central Atlanta Progress is a private, not-for-profit corporation that strives to create a robust economic climate for Downtown Atlanta. With a Board of Directors of 56 of Downtown's top business leaders, CAP is funded through the investment of businesses and institutions. For more information please visit www.atlantadowntown.com