Senate Bill 402 gaining controversy from criminal justice advocates


AUGUSTA, G.A (WJBF) – A bill making its way through the Senate could do away with signature bonds.

“If you want to put conditions of release on somebody, if you want to make them pay bail, make it affordable,” said Jeremy Cherson, the senior policy advisor with the Bail Project.

Cherson is talking about Georgia Senate Bill 402 which would limit the who can post a recognizance bond… He says it criminalizes the poor.

“Any bill that imposes restrictions, and takes away the ability for a judge to release somebody pre-trial without any conditions is going to disspropportiently impact poor people, it’s going to dissproportiently impact people of color,” said Cherson.

Senate Bill 402 was first introduced to the Senate last year. It would take away the option for people to be released by promising to appear for their trial date. They would have to pay their bail and pay it in full.

“The ability to release those people for free without any bail is gone and it means that people are going to have to pay something to get their freedom and these people are still considered innocent under the law,” said Cherson.

Right now removing the signature bond option only applies to felony charges like DUI and murder. Cherson says the biggest issue with this bill is that there’s no assessment from a judge.

“It would be up to the judge to decide if any kind of conditions of release should be set so prior to this legislation, a judge could’ve said if your charged with any of these now 25 charges that are in this statue, I don’t believe you’re a risk, I think you are going to come back to court, you can go home,” he said.

Vic hawk with the hawk law group says there are pros to this legislation– like the possibility of preferential treatment by a judge.

“It’s designed to create some uniformity and application for release via bond,” said Hawk.

“I don’t think that creating that uniformity is worth more, like that is not a legitimate concern, we should be more concerned with the number of poor people of color that are going to be affected by this bill, because they’re charged with something, they’re simply charged with it,” said Cherson.

Senate bill 402 is set to go into effect on January 1st.

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