Bail Reform in Atlanta is Under Threat: Action Needed TODAY
In response to a reported increase in “street racing” in the city of Atlanta, City Councilmember Michael Julian Bond is attempting, again, to roll back the city’s hard-won bail reform and put more Atlantans in jail. His proposed ordinance (20-O-1653) would label people arrested for certain traffic offenses as “violent,” so that they will be denied bail and caged until their court appearance. 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 measure would disproportionately harm Black people, leading to more incarceration, financial penalties, and daily hardship.
It also goes without saying that we are in the middle of a pandemic. Jailing more people will further exacerbate the public health crisis when there are so many other pressing issues to address – like the pending eviction crisis; continued uprisings in defense of Black lives; the hundreds of people whose free speech was criminalized this summer.
Councilmember Bond’s proposed ordinance is an unacceptable expansion of criminalization, particularly when the city has not tried other solutions first (and when we know that incarceration, financial penalties, and pre-trial detention have no proven deterrent effect on car events.) 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 reflexively turned to punishment. Further criminalization flies in the face of the city’s hard-won bail reform, over a year’s work toward closing our extra city jail, and commitment to reducing reliance on the criminal legal system. This is not about addressing the issue of street racing, it is about turning back the clock on the progress the city has made on criminal justice reform.
Can you call the number below and leave a comment for the Public Safety Committee, urging them to kill ordinance 20-O-1653, make NO new amendments to bail reform, and stop turning to the criminal legal system to solve every challenge?
HOW: Call 404-330-6022 on Sunday, 10/25, from 4pm-7pm.
“I’m calling to demand that the Public Safety committee kill proposed ordinance 20-O-1653 which attempts to roll back the city’s hard-won bail reform. This is an attempt to criminalize mostly Black and Brown youth, and it is unacceptable that the city has not even attempted to find other solutions yet, such as engaging the car enthusiast community and finding new and safe spaces for car related activity. More criminal penalties and caging people before court have no proven deterrent effect on car events; the only thing we know for sure is that this ordinance will result in more young Black people jail. We need real solutions, not more punishment.”
You can also email or call your City Councilmember and ask them to say no to proposed ordinance 20-O-1653! Contact information is below.
Joyce Shepherd, Chair, District 12
Michael Julian Bond – Post 1 at Large
Andrea L. Boone – District 10
Amir R. Farokhi – District 2
Dustin Hillis – District 9
Carla Smith – District 1
Cleta Winslow – District 4