Help Us Protect Bail Reform in Atlanta!
In the midst of spiking COVID-19 cases, a looming housing crisis, and a volatile national election, the Atlanta City Council is once again trying to roll back the city’s hard-won bail reform and put more Atlantans in jail, under the pretense of “addressing” street racing. Councilmember Bond’s proposed ordinance 20-O-1653 would label people arrested for certain traffic offenses as “violent,” so that they will be denied bail and jailed until their court appearance.
The bill is ineffective, in that it will not even begin to solve the problem that it purports to address; regressive, in that it rolls back the city’s hard-won and widely-supported 2018 bail reform ordinance; and reactionary, in that it has been advanced primarily in response to complaints from residents of one wealthy area of Atlanta. Despite the recommendation of many alternatives, the city has not considered or attempted any other solution, or worked with communities to creatively problem-solve.
Unfortunately, the ordinance was adopted by the Public Safety and Legal Administration Committee on October 26. But we still have time to fight this: it will come before the full City Council for a vote this Monday, November 2, and there will be the opportunity for public comment on Sunday, November 1, from 4 to 7. We need you to help protect our communities, put an end to racist criminalization, and defeat this bill.
Call and leave a comment of 2 minutes maximum, urging Council to kill proposed ordinance 20-O-1653, make no new amendments to bail reform, and stop turning to the racially biased criminal legal system to solve every challenge.
We have a sample script below — please feel free to use that as a jumping-off point, and incorporate additional talking points as you wish.
Call 404-330-6001 on Sunday, 11/1, between 4pm and 7pm and leave a message urging council to vote NO on 20-0-1653.
Hello, my name is ____. [If you live or work in Atlanta, say where you live or work – this is important!]
I’m calling to demand that the City Council vote NO on proposed ordinance 20-O-1653, which attempts to roll back bail reform and jail more people. We of course all want solutions, but this ordinance does not provide any. In fact, there’s been no evidence offered to suggest that increased jail time will have any proven deterrent effect on car events. We shouldn’t prioritize the voices of North Atlantans over the rest of the city –– we all deserve to feel safe, and a policy that caters to one community while harming another is unacceptable. It’s crucial that the City Council show some real leadership and work with the community in finding non-punitive and lasting solutions. Please vote no on this ordinance.
Additional Talking Points
- This bill is ineffective. There has been no evidence offered to suggest that incarceration, financial penalties, and pre-trial detention will have any proven deterrent effect on car events. If the City Council pursues this ordinance, we will be back in the same place a month from now.
- This bill is regressive. The wording of the ordinance––particularly surrounding “reckless driving”––is extremely broad, and would give police officers enormous discretion to challenge bail reform through traffic offenses.
- This bill is racist. This measure will disproportionately harm Black and Brown people, leading to more incarceration, financial penalties, and daily hardship.
- This bill is reactionary. Despite the recommendation of many alternatives, the city has not considered or attempted any other solution, or worked with communities to creatively problem-solve. Instead, they immediately turned to punishment. Our elected officials must stop taking the easy way out and find creative solutions that will work for all Atlantans.
Proposed other solutions:
- Work with the car enthusiast community to creatively problem-solve; reach out to the organizers of car shows to educate them and develop new solutions together.
- Provide a safe alternative for young people by designating a specific location where they can gather.
- Modify streets to discourage the activity — e.g. put up temporary barricades, speed bumps, medians, etc.