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This City Just Took a Major Step to Reform Its Oppressive and Inhumane Bail System

February 7, 2018 in Blogs

By Mehreen Kasana, AlterNet

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“The city jails are filled with people charged with misdemeanors only because they cannot pay.”

Atlanta's City Council just unanimously voted and adopted a move to reform Atlanta’s cash bail system, which frequently targets, jails and ultimately upends the lives of its poorest citizens for some of the most minor and non-violent misdemeanors. The decision took a heated six hours to reach a 13-0 vote, and has become the latest protest in a growing number of concerted efforts against the American justice system's notorious bail scam.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed the proposal that stipulated people guilty of nuisance offenses should not be jailed for unnecessarily lengthy durations—think in terms of days, weeks and months—simply because they do not have the financial power to pay fines starting at $100 and going up to $500 and more. The reform will take effect a month after Bottoms signs the proposal. Once active, the Atlanta Detention Center will be authorized to let people guilty of minor misdemeanors out on their own personal recognizance as long as they promise to appear in court on demand.

Efforts to address the city’s oppressive cash bail system have been taking place for a while now. According to the AJC, the Southern Center for Human Rights and the Civil Rights Corps demanded former Mayor Kasim Reed to acknowledge and rectify the conditions of impoverished people who couldn’t quite literally buy their way out of prison due to hefty bails for petty crimes.

To paint a picture of just how morally dubious the city's bail process was, Southern Center for Human Rights lawyer Sarah Geraghty told Atlanta radio station WABE that the system criminalizes poverty. “Here's how it works now,” she said. “People who can afford to pay are immediately …read more


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