Atlanta group leader asking feds for help with Fulton repeat offender problem

Atlanta group leader asking feds for help with Fulton repeat offender problem
Attorney General William Barr speaks to reporters at the Justice Department in Washington, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, to announce results of an investigation of the shootings at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida. On Dec. 6, 2019, 21-year-old Saudi Air Force officer, 2nd Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani, opened fire at the naval base in Pensacola, killing three U.S. sailors and injuring eight other people.

One of the leaders of an organization focused on crime in Atlanta has written a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr seeking federal aid in battling the Fulton County repeat offender issue.

Amber Connor, who co-founded Concerned Citizens United, a Facebook group with nearly 6,000 members, emailed Barr a letter Dec. 31 listing eight ways to help solve the problem. The group often posts updates on Facebook about crimes happening in Buckhead and other parts of Atlanta

“This letter is a request to extend the federal corruption investigation of Atlanta city government to the judiciary branch, with specific concern focused on how the avoidance of the federal mandate cap for allowable prison inmates is being used,” Connor wrote in the letter.

In an interview, she said this is the fourth or fifth letter she’s sent to the U.S. attorney general in the past few years. They mainly have to do with the issue of Fulton judges releasing repeat offenders on low or no bond, allowing them to commit more crimes.

“Our problem is violent offenders,” Connor said. “This is not OK. The fact that we find out this rapist has been out two or three times (on bond), that is ridiculous. The city and state don’t want to spend money on actual rehabilitation centers (for juveniles and the mentally ill) that would help solve this problem and lighten the load on our (county) jail.

“I hate that it got to that point but as a citizen, when you’re not being heard and things aren’t being addressed … that’s not acceptable.”

Connor said her involvement with monitoring crime in Atlanta started as a concerned resident in her west Atlanta neighborhood and evolved into setting up a neighborhood watch program there, joining the citizen academies of the Atlanta Police Department and Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and then attending city meetings. She also met with city and county officials including council members, commissioners, judges and law enforcement officials.

When she realized the city and county officials weren’t doing enough to solve the repeat offender problem, she contacted state officials, including the governor’s office (when Nathan Deal was in office), but they also didn’t address the issue, Connor said. That’s when she began contacting the U.S. attorney general’s office.

Connor said one reason repeat offenders are being released on low or no bond is a federal mandate that caps the inmate population at the Fulton County Jail’s four facilities at 2,500, adding the county had to pay fines if they went over the inmate limit.

She said she was upset to hear what Reed recommended for the city after meeting with Prince Charles during a 2010 trip to London, an Atlanta sister city.

“Reed decided to put in more license-plate reader cameras instead of giving police officers a raise,” Connor said, adding this decision came at a time when the officers were leaving the Atlanta Police for other jobs. “Why are our city leaders more interested in advice from our sister cities instead of going to our officers and listening to them every day?”

Connor said Barr’s office did reply to her letter, but in generic fashion.

“A while back we received a letter that pretty much said, ‘Thank you for informing us of these issues.’ It’s pretty vague. I don’t think it would be as detailed as the letter (Fulton District Attorney) Paul Howard gave (in response to her letter to Barr). It was very smart of him.”

An email to a U.S. Department of Justice spokesperson seeking comment on the issue was not returned at the Neighbor’s deadline. Connor said she hopes the city and county will eventually address the issue themselves.

“I wish wasn’t that way and I wish it wasn’t necessary to push for the federal government’s help,” she said. “I would like to just go to the officials and have them solve those problems. … Instead, (they say), ‘Let’s kick the can down the road and make the topic go away.’ That just exacerbates the problem.”





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