Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Wednesday that her administration has proposed legislation to eliminate cash bonds to secure release from the City of Atlanta Detention Center following an arrest for violation of city ordinances.

Criminal justice reform, including cash bail reform, has long been a key priority for Mayor Bottoms and was a centerpiece of her campaign.

“I am pleased to announce legislation to eliminate cash bonding at the City of Atlanta Detention Center,” Bottoms said in a statement. “With this legislation, we are affirming that people should not be held in jail because they cannot pay bond. We are making a commitment that the City of Atlanta will ensure that no one will be jailed because of their inability to pay.

“To achieve this commitment, we need action from all of our stakeholders, including the Municipal Court, the Atlanta City Council, and our city’s non-profit and philanthropic community,” she continued. “I look forward to working with our partners to adopt progressive, effective legislation and implement policies that align with our values.”

Requiring cash for bail can result in extended detention for individuals are only accused of low-level offenses and who are presumed innocent under the law. This detention can have significant impacts on individuals’ lives, affecting their ability to maintain jobs and their homes, especially for low-income individuals.

Across the US, many cities, counties and states have recognized that moving away from cash bonding is essential to meaningful criminal justice reform.

The ordinance was discussed in a Public Safety and Legal Administration committee meeting, where stakeholders will have the opportunity to help craft the final legislation.

Bottoms announced last week that her transition team has formed a policy advisory committee to provide guidance and counsel to the Mayor on issues including criminal justice reform, as well as a number of other issues.

The committee will make additional recommendations, beyond eliminating cash bonding, for meaningful criminal justice reform at the municipal level.

September 8, 2013. Atlanta, GA City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms. Photograph by Michael A. Schwarz.

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