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Georgia Rethinks Easy Bail

I think it's inhumane to incarcerate criminals. They're not bad people, just didn't get held enough by their mummy when they were small.

They don't mean to carjack you, it's just their way of screaming out for help. That's is while you're screaming out for help.

Georgia Rethinks Easy Bail

The state reverses policies that let suspects out too easily.

By The Editorial Board, WSJ

Feb. 12, 2024

States are rethinking failed experiments in criminal-justice reform, and better late than never. Georgia is the latest to reverse a soft-on-crime policy by restoring cash bail for dozens of crimes, after dropping the requirement helped stoke a crime wave.

The Georgia General Assembly passed a bill this month to mandate cash bail for 30 crimes, including certain types of domestic violence, rioting and drug dealing. The change limits the power of judges to return arrested suspects to the streets without a pretrial deposit. The bill awaits a signature from GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who began an anticrime campaign last year by tightening sentences for gang-related offenses.

The new bail law is a quick reversal for Atlanta lawmakers, who in 2018 granted judges the power to release people arrested for most misdemeanors. Dispensing with bail was part of a package of reforms enacted under former GOP Gov. Nathan Deal, which also included tripling the threshold for felony theft. The GOP-controlled Legislature whooped these reforms through amid the relatively low-crime 2010s.

By 2019 Atlanta police were raising the alarm about the number of crimes committed by defendants out on bail, and Judge Robert McBurney described a “revolving door” of offenders. Atlanta convened its Repeat Offender Commission of law-enforcement officials to report on how to curb the trend, only to see crime surge along with the rest of the nation after the summer 2020 riots.

The new law would also restrict the charitable bail funds that raise money to post on defendants’ behalf. The funds prevent accused criminals from having skin in the game. The Bail Project has helped release more than 1,500 people in Georgia. Under the new restrictions, funds would have to register as bondsmen to bail out more than three people in a year.

Reasserting the importance of bail has outraged progressives, who in recent years have made a civil-rights cause out of freeing defendants with no strings attached. The American Civil Liberties Union complained in a statement that any bail requirement treats poor people unequally, and it threatened to sue if the bill becomes law. That critique overlooks that the new law would still let judges set bail at a minimal level for needy defendants.

The movement to eliminate bail was always misguided and has jeopardized public safety in many big cities. Let’s hope more states and cities follow Georgia’s lead.

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