May 1, 2024 - News

Kemp signs bill requiring cash bail for 30 more crimes

Illustration of a gavel on a stack of cash

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Gov. Brian Kemp signed controversial legislation on Wednesday adding to the list of crimes requiring cash bail to get out of jail.

Why it matters: The new law aligns with Kemp's hardline approach toward criminal justice. Senate Bill 63 also unravels some reforms made under former Gov. Nathan Deal, including a provision allowing judges to weigh whether a defendant could pay up before establishing bail.

What's new: Judges will be required to impose cash bail over other alternatives for 30 additional offenses, including criminal trespassing, failure to appear, racketeering, domestic terrorism and rioting.

  • The law also restricts organizations operating charitable bail funds from posting more than three cash bonds per year and requires them to meet the same legal requirements as bond companies.

What they're saying: Kemp said on Wednesday he's glad to sign legislation that "makes our communities safer and provides our judicial system with even tougher tools to bring violent offenders to justice."

  • "Georgians have witnessed the disastrous impact lawlessness is having on communities across the country," he said. "Thanks to the work of our legislative partners in the General Assembly, we are able to once again send the message that such lawlessness will find no safe haven in Georgia."

The other side: Marlon Kautz, spokesperson for the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, which pays bail and provides legal defense for protesters, said in a statement the law will "seriously disrupt our work." He said the fund will continue its work.

  • "We believe everyone has the right to defend themselves against unjust charges, and that being poor doesn't mean you should have to do that from a cell," Kautz said.

The ACLU of Georgia said the law is "cruel, costly, and counterproductive" and that it will file a legal challenge to SB 63.

  • "We are very disappointed that Gov. Kemp has sacrificed the good of Georgia for political gain."

The big picture: Kemp's seal of approval comes days after dozens of students and other protesters have been arrested and charged with criminal trespass during pro-Palestinian demonstrations at Emory University and the University of Georgia.

  • The signing also comes months after a grand jury indicted 61 "Stop Cop City" activists, including Kautz and two other organizers with the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, on racketeering and domestic terrorism charges for their alleged roles in the movement to block Atlanta's public safety training center.

Kemp also signed bills that:

  • Require sheriffs to enforce federal immigration laws by holding detainees suspected of being undocumented immigrants. The bill also bans so-called "sanctuary cities"
  • Strengthen penalties for anyone convicted of "swatting" and drive-by shootings
  • Make it a misdemeanor for people to promote or facilitate street racing and would suspend the driver's licenses of those convicted of reckless stunt driving.

What's next: SB 63 goes into effect on July 1.


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