ROSWELL, Ga. — Roswell city leaders have completed the first steps to potentially close the city’s detention center – a measure which could save local taxpayers $1 million annually.
On April 11, the City Council voted unanimously at a Public Safety and Public Works Committee to discuss options on how to reduce the jail’s costs by bringing the issue to the April 24 council meeting.
One of the options would be to close the detention center. Police Chief Rusty Grant said a conservative estimate indicates closing the facility could save the city more than $1 million each year.
“It’s really a duplication of service for Roswell to continue to operate its own detention center while the Fulton County Sheriff’s office is also running a jail,” Grant said. “What I propose is that we use the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office for all of our arrests, including our ordinance violations.”
Roswell currently uses the Fulton County Jail for its state prisoners, both misdemeanor and felony, while those charged with city ordinance violations are housed at the Roswell Detention Center. The Roswell center on average holds seven prisoners per day.
In cases of ordinance violations, people are held at the detention center for 72 hours. After that time, if no bond has been posted, the prisoner is transported to the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center. Roswell pays the Lumpkin County facility $38 a night to house prisoners.
There is no additional cost for housing prisoners at the Fulton County Jail. The funds are already taken from taxes, Grant said.
The only negative the police chief cited in closing the local center would be the elimination of staff.
In the past, this consequence had stopped him from making a recommendation to close the facility.
“Back in 2015, the thought of the staff no longer working for the police department and the city weighed very heavily on me, and I think that had a lot to do with me not making a decision to close the jail back in 2015,” Grant said. “Today, that decision still weighs very heavily.”
If the detention center closed, the city would help affected staff find employment within the city of Roswell or elsewhere. There is no suggested date yet for closing the facility, but Grant is looking at May at the earliest in consideration for staff benefits.
Ahead of the April 24 meeting, Roswell staff will be assessing the options, including how the detention center could be used if closed and when would be the best time to close it.