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Council Committee Considers Legislation Eliminating Requirement of Cash Payment Bonds After Certain Arrests

Work session scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 1 for further deliberation

Post Date:01/26/2018 2:19 PM

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Council Communications
Atlanta City Hall
55 Trinity Ave. S.W.
Atlanta, GA 30303

CONTACT:
Talia Moffitt
Public Information Officer – Council Communications
(404) 546-1835 / (404) 326-6506
tkmoffitt@atlantaga.gov

January 26, 2018

Council Committee Considers Legislation Eliminating Requirement of Cash Payment Bonds After Certain Arrests
Work session scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 1 for further deliberation  

ATLANTA – The Atlanta City Council’s Public Safety and Legal Administration Committee is considering legislation that would eliminate the requirement of a cash bond payment to secure release from the City of Atlanta Detention Center.

The measure would codify legislation allowing municipal court judges the ability to grant signature bonds, releasing defendants on their own recognizance with their promise to return to court for trial for certain nonviolent offenses in the city. A committee work session, to which the public is invited, is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb.1 in Committee Room No. 1, Atlanta City Hall, 55 Trinity Avenue, S.W. to examine the measure.

The legislation (18-O-1045) was introduced by District 5 Councilmember Natalyn Mosby Archibong on behalf of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ administration. It seeks to “ensure that persons arrested (for misdemeanor offenses) and booked into the custody of the City of Atlanta not remain in jail due to their inability to pay cash bond collateral.”

“Too many people have been held in jail on minor charges because they couldn’t afford to pay bail,” Archibong said. “It is time for the City of Atlanta to address bail reform to decouple criminal justice outcomes from a person’s economic status.”  

Bail reform has been sweeping the nation with Atlanta being one of the latest cities to answer the call for action. Activists say the current cash-bond system discriminates against the poor, ruins innocent people’s lives, feeds mass incarceration and plays a part in wrongful convictions. Defense lawyers and civil rights advocates argue that people who pose little risk have been incarcerated only to be given plea deals or have their charges dropped. The movement is linked to a broader effort to end abuses across the criminal justice system including biased policing, oppressive court fees and mandatory minimum prison sentences.

Several attendees at a Jan. 23 public safety committee meeting urged caution, believing the move by the city could eliminate the incentive for those accused of a crime to appear in court.

Post 1 At-Large Councilmember and former City of Atlanta Department of Corrections officer Michael Julian Bond also had concerns.

“It needs to be brought out that there are two sides to this equation,” Bond said. “… On the flip side of things, if you are a person who has been a victim of a crime and you’ve got an individual who has plagued the community or plagued you personally, I want to make sure that as we develop this policy, we’re doing so with victims in mind—that it is a balance.”

Archibong added that “the legislation will not cover habitual or violent offenders. It specifically excludes repeat offenders and those that have been charged with a violent crime.”

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