Georgia’s recently re-elected Governor Kemp campaigned on getting tough on crime. While safer streets are a laudable goal, how that goal is achieved matters, and the end does not always justify the means.
One current concern is Senate Bill 63’s attempt to reform the bail system.
The proposed law would result in more people needing to post bail if they wish to get out of jail
The bill, if passed, would mean that people accused of many nonviolent crimes, such as shoplifting or possessing marijuana, could sit in jail until the time of their trial unless they can afford to post bail. Currently, judges can free them for such minor crimes provided that they commit to turning back up in court.
While keeping violent people behind bars between their arrest and trial is necessary to avoid causing further harm to others, the state’s jails are already full of people who present a minimal threat to others. Increasing overcrowding and keeping non-violent people who have yet to be convicted of criminal wrongdoing behind bars unnecessarily doesn’t seem like an effort that serves a clear and justifiable purpose.
The U.S. justice system is meant to serve the principle that you are innocent until proven guilty. Innocent people should not be punished, and that’s exactly what keeping them in jail does – it deprives them of their liberty, deprives children of their parents and prevents people from earning a living to support their families.
Promoters of the bill say it will stop repeat non-violent offenders from getting back out onto the street and reoffending so easily. Opponents say it will result in more people staying in jail because they do not have the means to post bail and that it unfairly targets certain sectors of society. They also say it will be counterproductive, and detaining people for more than a day makes it more likely that they will re-offend.
This bill is not yet law. So, if you are accused of a crime, seek legal help to understand the latest situation and examine your defense options, as well as your ability to remain out of jail until your case is resolved.