Atlanta City Detention Center

Mayor Andre Dickens is moving forward with plans to convert the city jail into the Center for Diversion and Services, a 24-hour facility designed to increase the range of options available to police when responding to calls related to mental health issues, substance abuse, and extreme poverty.

Dickens put forth two legislative items at the Feb. 7 Atlanta City Council meeting to further the progress of the project and cement the city’s partnership with Fulton County on developing the center.

“In the spirit of moving Atlanta forward, we must continue to be innovative in our approach to help people with behavioral and mental health concerns,” Dickens said. “By developing the Center for Diversion and Services, we are providing one central location for coping and recovery resources for our most vulnerable residents.” 

The first piece of legislation focuses on procuring a third-party operator for the center, while the second transfers $2,950,000 from the uncommitted fund balance to cover the one-time capital costs necessary to complete the construction for the center at the jail site at 254 Peachtree St. SW.

Annual operating costs for the center will be shared equally by the city and Fulton County once the facility opens to the public. The Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative (PAD) and Grady Hospital will also be partners in the center.

In the past, persons dealing with a mental health crisis or a drug problem would normally be taken to jail, detention center or a hospital emergency room. PAD and Grady will provide care and services at the diversion center, including peer reception, behavioral health screenings, non-emergency medical care, sobering rooms, case management, warrant resolution and food, laundry and showers. 

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.