Groups sue Georgia law banning bail: “Cruel and expensive”

Two groups have filed suit in federal court to stop certain parts of a state law that they say prohibits community bail activities.

The ACLU of Georgia and the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University Law Center filed the lawsuit Friday, asking a judge to declare Section 4 of Georgia Senate Bill 63 unconstitutional and issue a temporary restraining order preventing the law from taking effect on July 1.

The groups filed the application on behalf of the Barred Business Foundation, a nonprofit based in Atlanta, and on behalf of John Cole Vodicka and Steve Williams, both members of Oconee Street United Methodist Church in Athens.

Two groups have filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to have Section 4 of Georgia Senate Bill 63 declared unconstitutional. AP Photo/Mike Stewart, Fil

Vodicka coordinates the charitable bail fund administered by the church's Justice and Outreach Committee, and Williams volunteers on the project.

“SB 63 is cruel and costly. It forces people to languish in prison because they cannot pay for their release and prevents others from helping them get released,” said Cory Isaacson, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia, in a statement.

“With this law, the state of Georgia is making it illegal to use its right to free speech to help people who are incarcerated simply because they are poor,” Isaacson added. “This is mean and unconstitutional, and we hope the courts will step in to stop the state from doing more harm.”

Earlier this month, The Bail Project announced that it had closed its Atlanta location due to SB 63, effective June 10.

A spokesman for Republican Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones, who championed the measure, had no immediate comment on the bill, instead referring to a May statement issued after Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed the measure.

“Passage of these bills will help law enforcement do their jobs and allow offenders to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Jones said in the May statement. “We will not allow criminals to walk free on our streets. These bills continue our efforts to keep Georgians safe.”

Anna Harden

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