Georgia Signs New Bill That Requires Cash Bail for More Offenses

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law legislation that increases the number of offenses that would require cash bail, including failing to appear in court for a traffic violation or a second charge of trespassing.

While Republicans say Senate Bill 63 is designed to ensure that individuals released on bond return for trial, opponents of the law claim that it unfairly targets low-income individuals who cannot afford to pay cash bail.

During a signing ceremony last Wednesday, Governor Kemp said the legislation would “ensure dangerous individuals cannot walk our streets and commit further crimes.”

Sponsored by state Senator Randy Robertson, a former deputy with the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Department, SB-63 was a Senate priority in this year’s legislative session.

Lt. Governor Burt Jones said the measure would prevent the “revolving door” that allows people to be released without cash bail to return to committing further crimes. He said there appeared to be a correlation between lenient bond policies and increased criminal activity in some counties and municipalities.

The law also imposes restrictions on how often charitable organizations or individuals can post bail for others to no more than three times each year. That provision was added due to the frustration over bail funds from far-left organizations to help release individuals who were arrested while protesting the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.

Georgia previously spearheaded efforts to roll back tougher crime policies in exchange for rehabilitation. In 2018, legislation was passed requiring judges to consider the financial status of a defendant when imposing bail. The measure also permitted law enforcement to issue citations for some low-level offenses instead of filing charges against suspects.

Opponents of the new law argue that SB-63 would take the state backward.

The ACLU of Georgia announced last week that it will challenge the law in court, claiming that SB-63 “criminalizes poverty” by forcing the poor and mentally ill to “languish in jail.”

The law is set to take effect on July 1.