Action Alert- Tell the House Public Safety Committee STOP SB 504
Late on Crossover Day, the Georgia Senate passed SB 504, the latest and most egregious attempt to punish poor people by requiring cash bail for pretrial release. SB 504 would require judges to impose cash bail for every felony offense, even as those accused are entitled to the presumption of innocence. SB 504 will force poor people to suffer in jails, while those with resources – charged with the exact same offenses – can purchase their release. SB 504 would also significantly limit judicial authority to refer persons held pretrial to critical programs and services that reduce recidivism unless they post a monetary bond.
SB 504 will be heard by a subcommittee of the House Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, March 29, at 2 pm. If SB 504 passes, taxpayer dollars will be wasted, bail bond companies will enjoy a windfall of profits, and racial and wealth disparities in the state’s criminal legal systems will worsen.
Please contact the key committee members in the list below and ask that they vote NO on SB 504. You can find our script and talking points below. Phone calls are the best way to reach lawmakers right now, but if you aren’t able to call, you can click here to send an email to all the members of the House Public Safety Committee.
|Chairman||J. Collins||404.657.1803||[email protected]|
|Vice Chairman||Danny Mathis||404.656.0152||[email protected]|
|Member||Alan Powell||404.463.3793||[email protected]|
|Member||Jodi Lott||404.651.7737||[email protected]|
|Member||Scott Holcomb||404.656.6372||[email protected]|
|Member||Bill Werkheiser||404.656.5943||[email protected]|
“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] [MENTION IF YOU ARE A CONSTITUENT]. I’m calling with a message for [NAME OF COMMITTEE MEMBER]. I’m calling to demand that the House Public Safety Committee vote NO on Senate Bill 504, which will rob judges we elected of discretion, force burdensome costs on local governments, punish poor people, and not keep us any safer. Pre-trial release and access to treatment and services should never be about financial resources. SB 504 dangerously expands wealth-based detention by mandating that people who are similarly charged be treated differently based only on their access to financial resources. SB 504 allows privileged people to purchase their freedom even though studies have proven cash bail does not increase public safety. The legislation would also keep many people from accessing treatment and services through pre-trial diversion. Please vote NO on this harmful and discriminatory piece of legislation. Thank you.”
Additional Talking Points:
- SB 504 will ultimately undermine public safety by limiting access to critical treatment and services provided through judicially ordered pretrial diversion programs.
- SB 504 will force burdensome costs on cities and counties, which should not be forced to spend potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars jailing people unnecessarily.
- SB 504 criminalizes poverty because many poor people will be forced to stay in jail simply because they cannot pay for release, while others with money who are similarly charged walk free.
- SB 504 perpetuates profiteering because the bail bond industry will enjoy increased profits when judges are forced to impose financial conditions on additional offenses.
- SB 504 compromises public safety because people who can return to their jobs, families, and communities are less likely to be rearrested.
- SB 504 denies the presumption of innocence because bail only impacts people who have not been convicted of a crime and therefore should be treated as innocent until proven guilty.
- SB 504 will have racially-biased implementation because cash bail disproportionately punishes Black and Brown people – communities that disproportionately have less access to wealth as a result of systemic racism and generations of oppression and exploitation.
- SB 504 will also cause disproportionately harsher outcomes for Black and Brown incarcerated people because people who are detained pretrial are more likely to be sentenced to prison and for longer terms.