All across America, legislative bodies are changing the way they treat crimes and alleged criminals. Many politicians now acknowledge that current policies do not provide equal rights or punishments to the rich and poor for the same crimes.
One example of this is the cash bail system. Wealthy individuals and middle-class earners can pay this bail easily. However, poorer Americans do not have the same opportunities. Understanding this prompted several jurisdictions to eliminate the cash bail system.
Athens’s first consideration
In 2019, The Augusta Chronicle reported that Athens was well on its way to becoming a state leader in criminal reform by eliminating the cash bail system. While Athens did not propose a full ban, it did propose eliminating this for minor offenses.
Reasons for the proposal
People who supported the original proposal pointed out that people with the means to post bail could resume their lives, like nothing happened, until trial. Meanwhile, people who did not have the means remained in jail and may even lose their jobs, in the process.
Passing of the proposal
Within just a few months, the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement shared that the local ordinance passed. Called the Freedom Act of Athens-Clarke County, it attracted unanimous support from the city commission.
Eliminating cash bail for minor offenses does not eliminate the bias against poorer families in the justice system. However, it provides a starting point that more jurisdictions across Georgia and the rest of America may begin to mirror. In the coming years, governments need to review additional policies to see what other changes they can make to better ensure equal treatment under the law.