Georgia Rolls Back Bail Reform – Sends Bill to Governor

On the heels of New York reinstating bail requirements on a wide range of felony crimes and Florida instituting a statewide bail schedule, Georgia has passed legislation requiring secured bail on 30 new criminal charges.  The bill originated in the Senate, passed the House has been sent to the governor for signature.

In addition to requiring bail on additional criminal charges, charitable bail organizations, who use donations from the public to post cash bail, will be limited to posting three cash bonds a year. Any organization wishing to post more than three bonds a year must qualify as a professional bondsman and be approved by the local sheriff to open an office.

It has been reported charitable bail organizations have posted cash bail for as many as 1500 offenders in Georgia. The rub on these organizations is that they have no authority to return a defendant to custody upon failure to appear. They are posting cash bail for violent offenders without the benefit of third-party guarantors vouching for the individual. New York, Texas, and Indiana have passed similar though less restrictive regulations in recent years.

Legislative action taking place in New York, Florida, Texas and now Georgia is akin to legislators waking up from a seven-year fog and realizing laws passed to reduce or eliminate bail have had a profound negative impact on public safety and seeing the need for a roll back of these ill-advised laws and policies.

There are states like Connecticut and Delaware undeterred by the spike in crime as they continue to consider legislation that would eliminate secured bail making their states less safe. Still, Georgia’s rollback of bail reforms is a giant step in the right direction and hopefully will encourage other state legislatures to take similar action. Common sense criminal justice measures are continuing to make a comeback and Georgia’s effort is in furtherance of that ideal.

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