Georgia Senate Passes Regressive Bill Targeting Cash Bail and Community Support
On February 1, 2024, the Georgia Senate passed Senate Bill 63. This bill, sponsored by Senator Randy Robertson, raises numerous concerns at the Southern Center and among our organizational partners for its potential to negatively impact criminal legal reform efforts throughout Georgia, specifically within the City of Atlanta and Fulton County. Senate Bill 63 proposes expanding mandatory cash bail to 30 new offenses, including many non-violent misdemeanors, requiring judges to impose cash bail for many offenses that do not involve physical harm to another person, such as possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, failure to appear, forgery, and criminal trespass.
Further, SB 63 essentially bans bail funds by not allowing organizations, charities, individuals, or groups to bail out more than three people per year and requiring them to register as bonding agencies.
- Exacerbates Jail Overcrowding: By requiring cash bail, this bill will lead to increased pre-trial detention, particularly for individuals experiencing homelessness or poverty who are unable to buy their freedom and are often the targets of several of the newly added offenses.
- Hinders Community Support: The language of SB 63 unnecessarily limits the ability of charities, direct aid agencies, and other groups to provide crucial fee-free financial support to incarcerated individuals and their families. Furthermore, it places an undue burden on these agencies by requiring them to adhere to the same registration requirements as for-profit bail bondsmen who charge nonrefundable fees.
- Undermines Progress: This legislation comes at a time when Fulton County Jail faces a Department of Justice investigation into what many have labeled a humanitarian crisis. This bill would hinder any opportunity to advance critical, progressive reforms.
We have raised these issues and more in a letter to the Atlanta City Council and Fulton County Board of Commissioners. You can read our full letter and community talking points below.SCHR-Letter-on-SB-63
The Georgia House of Representatives is likely to take up the vote on SB 63 on Tuesday, February 6, 2024. We implore you to contact your legislators and urge them to oppose SB 63 vocally.
Follow this link or click the button below to place calls and send emails to your representatives in the Georgia House.Take Action
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