In an attempt to “transition away” from the criminal justice system, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) funneled $4 million into refurbishing a former Atlanta jail into a nonprofit diversion center. Co-managed by the Soros-funded Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative (PAD), the center provides police with an “alternative” to jailing suspects who are “experiencing poverty, homelessness, substance abuse or mental health issues.”
It received city council approval in February.
The new facility will offer beds, showers and mental health screenings. However, controversy has erupted over the decision to pursue alternative treatments for certain criminals when homicides this year in Atlanta are on track to beat 2021’s 30-year high.
So, instead of arresting criminals found breaking the law, the city will encourage police to drop off offenders at the diversion center. PAD has even received a task force, courtesy of Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens (D).
The task force has already recommended the city revise the Atlanta Police Department’s performance evaluation system to “incentivize” putting eligible offenders in the PAD program. At the same time, repeat offenders are committing up to 40% of Atlanta’s crimes. And homicides in the city are up 43% this year over 2021.
Many habitual offenders are released back onto the streets after serving little to no prison time, as Atlanta’s Fox 5 reports:
“We catch them, we arrest them, we convict them, but somehow, they are back on our streets and committing crimes,” said Mayor Dickens, before outlining the details of a new APD Unit designed to target repeat offenders. “About 1,000 individuals are committing up to 40% of the crimes in our city.”
This new social experiment coincides with Warnock’s competitive reelection that will likely pit him against Republican Herschel Walker. Warnock has endured accusations of taking a soft-on-crime approach from his Republican opponent in the 2020 election. He’ll have a harder time this fall explaining Atlanta’s spike in violent crime amid a brutal election cycle.
The PAD Center is not the first time Warnock has supported a facility like this. Previously, Warnock lobbied for an even bigger facility, the “Center for Equity,” which would have cost the city $100 million. It would’ve included a spa, recording studios, a performing arts theater and permanent housing alongside the pre-arrest diversion center.
Thankfully, that proposal was drastically scaled back — at least temporarily — after public outcry from local residents, who argued that all Atlanta needed was a facility to house inmates from the overflowing Fulton County Jail just a few blocks away.