The Athens-Clarke County Commission passed the ‘Freedom Act’ today unanimously, putting an end to cash bail for local ordinance violations.
According to Commissioner Denson, the Freedom Act will also reduce the number of arrests made for these kinds of violations. The text of the ordinance indicates that “No person shall be arrested or detained…for violating any provision of the Athens-Clarke County code.”
The ordinance makes an exception for violence and threats of violence. Domestic violence and disorderly conduct may still result in an arrest, for example. There are similar exceptions for those who refuse to identify themselves to police officers, and who may have a previous failure to appear in response to a court summons.
Everyone else caught violating local ordinances will either be given a citation only, or arrested and later released on their own recognizance without having to pay cash bail. The commission has no authority over violations of state or federal law.
This is a huge step forward and major victory for criminal justice reform advocates, such as the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement and Athens for Everyone. For further information and for their take on this issue, you can visit the A4E website. You can also watch my previous video on the public pressure that led to this victory.