A Georgia House committee is considering a bill that would take away judges’ ability to release people charged with a felony on their personal recognizance without setting a bail.
Under the proposed legislation, which passed the Senate on Crossover Day, all Georgia felonies would be considered bail restricted offenses. This means that an individual would not be granted the ability to post bail without paying money in order to be released from jail until their trial.
Republican Sen. Randy Jackson of Cataula spoke on the bill in the Senate’s session last Tuesday. He said he was inspired to pursue changes after he said some defendants charged with dangerous crimes were allowed to leave jail without paying money.
“Individuals were being assessed bonds, exorbitant bonds, and then being allowed to sign with only their signature, and the public was being misled,” said Jackson. “The public is being led to assume, or made to assume, that someone who had posted a fifty thousand … dollar bond on their own signature have actually put money up there, which they had not.”
Jackson successfully opposed an amendment that would have limited bail restricted felonies to trafficking.
Republican Sen. John Albers of Roswell said he supported the bill because it would take away judges’ discretion in these cases.
“We have great judges, but some of them really still want to be a legislator or social worker,” said Albers.
The Senate passed the legislation to label all Georgia felonies as bail restricted offenses by a vote of 30-22. The bill has been assigned to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.