Starting in January 2021, defendants in Georgia cannot be released on their own recognizance if they face felony charges for certain crimes including murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, driving under the influence and bail jumping.
The term “own recognizance” has been replaced with “unsecured judicial release.”

District 2 Commissioner of the Athens-Clarke County Government Mariah Parker said: “I do think we need to push further. It may require intervention at the state level, with regards to…making the case that it’s not about letting dangerous people out of jail. It’s about treating dangerous people equally.”

Parker said that if a judge truly considers someone to be a flight risk or a danger to the community, there should be no bail at all, rather than a really high bail that only the wealthy and well-connected would be able to afford.

As in many other states, there had been four ways to get out of jail in Georgia once a person has been detained: cash bond, property bond, surety bond, which is the contract with a bail agent, and signature bond, meaning signing a pledge to attend all court hearings and upholding all the requirement of the release. In other words, being released on personal recognizance.

“Keeping people in jail because they are too poor to post a money bond is deeply out of step with American principles, “ Burrell Ellis, political director for the Georgia affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, said. “Georgia taxpayers spend hundreds of millions per year to hold innocent people in jail. … For low-level non-violent offenses, many should never be arrested n the first place. An arrest record denies people access to housing, jobs and education., which hurts families and communities. We urge legislators to bring equity and fairness to Georgie’s justice system.”

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