Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has signed ordinance 18-O-1045, which eliminates the use of cash bonds in granting release from jail, the City of Atlanta announced today.
Specifically, the ordinance means that cash bonds are not required to secure release from the City of Atlanta Detention Center following an arrest for violation of city ordinances.
Bottoms signed the ordinance into law the day after the Atlanta City Council voted to approve it 13-0-2, a press release from the city says.
“With this ordinance, we are affirming that people should not be held in jail because they cannot pay bond. We are also making a commitment that the City of Atlanta will ensure that no one will be jailed because of their inability to pay,” Bottoms said. “I look forward to working with our partners as we continue to seek opportunities to increase the supportive resources and wrap-around services available to individuals released on signature bond to ensure their safety and the safety of our communities.”
The legislation was introduced by District 5 City Councilmember Natalyn Archibong on behalf of Bottoms.
“Too many people have been held in jail on minor charges because they couldn’t afford to pay bail,” Archibong said. “It is time for the City of Atlanta to address bail reform to decouple criminal justice outcomes from a person’s economic status.”
According to the city, requiring cash for bail before an initial court hearing can prolong detention time for individuals accused of only low-level offenses and who cannot afford to pay the bail, which can affect their ability to maintain jobs and their homes, especially low-income citizens.
Part of a nationwide focus on criminal justice reform, the ordinance maintains the ability to impose bail and other conditions for certain offenders including violent offenders, repeat offenders and offenders who fail to appear for their initial hearing.
Additionally, the ordinance authorizes the Office of the Public Defender to provide additional legal and social services to prevent defendants from being released into the public without the necessary resources to integrate back into their communities.
Bottoms also announced last month that her transition team has formed a policy advisory committee to address issues including criminal justice reform.