Cash bail is the process of paying money for release from jail while you await your trial. And, the State of Georgia may be closing the doors on the system entirely.
According to an opinion piece by Marc Hyden, Director of State Government Affairs at the R Street Institute, Georgia is taking the first steps towards eliminating their cash bail system.
In fact, last year Nathan Deal signed a bill (SB 407) permitting judges to take the income of defendants into account when setting bail amounts.
Atlanta also passed an ordinance eliminating cash bail for certain low-level, non-violent offenses.
And, a few days ago, Athens-Clarke County Georgia eliminated bail for a few petty violations and local ordinances.
Cash bail provides a necessary service in the state of Georgia.
The very system exists because of one of the most important and fundamental cornerstones in our law enforcement system: you’re innocent until proven guilty.
Without bail, people accused of crimes would find themselves awaiting trial behind bars. That’s imprisoning someone without due cause. And, that’s fundamentally un-American. Until you have been fully convicted of a crime, your freedoms should not be infringed upon.
In fact, our founding fathers found bail so important that they created a constitutional guarantee against excessive bail (for non-capital crimes) in the Bill of Rights. Just like you’re guaranteed a right to a speedy trial, you’re also guaranteed the right to non-excessive bail. That is unless the state overturns this time-tested system.
What Does the Bail Industry Have to Say?
Bail bonds companies (like us here at Anytime Bail Bonding, Inc.) make their money through the cash bail system. So, it’s safe to assume that they’d be against this type of reform. While the current system takes advantage of those less fortunate, removing the system is not a solution in scope with the problem. However, that does not mean that bail companies are completely against reforming the bail system.
Who Else Will Be Affected by the Reform?
Removing the cash bail system won’t just harm the bail industry. It will also provide the opportunity for more discrimination towards minorities and the less fortunate. Since they are already the biggest victims of discrimination in the cash bail system, it hardly seems fair to make things even worse. Removing the cash bail system in favor of one where the judge holds all the decision making power regarding a defendant’s pretrial release is hardly a solution to that problem. In fact, it very well may exacerbate it.