The Multifaith Initiative to End Mass Incarceration urgently calls for the Georgia House of Representatives to reject Senate Bill 63 (“SB 63”). This bill expands the cash bail system and wrongfully targets charitable entities that have been instrumental in addressing the criminal legal system’s inadequacies.
SB 63 risks strengthening a practice that criminalizes poverty and would pave the way for a troubling resurgence of unconstitutional debtors’ prisons. By penalizing charitable bailouts, the Georgia Senate wishes to erect yet another hurdle to clear for churches, social organizations, and individuals leading efforts to break the chains of mass incarceration to clear and address the systemic failures that have long plagued our communities.
The cash bail system already disproportionately affects indigent arrestees and causes unnecessary financial strain on their families. No reasonable basis exists for its expansion. SB 63 does nothing but raise questions about Senator Randy Robertson’s motivations for sponsoring such a bill and brings its supporters’ alignment (or misalignment) with the values of fairness, equity, and compassion into focus.
We advocate for a criminal legal system rooted in principles of equality and fairness that champions the fundamental rights of all those subject to it. We cannot accomplish this goal with laws based solely on retribution and deterrence. Our lawmakers must also act with compassion and empathy. SB 63 does not espouse these ideals. It only strays us further away from a system based on social justice and compassionate cooperation. We recognize the moral and legal imperative to uphold the presumption of innocence and decry the adverse impacts of the distended cash bail system SB 63 greedily demands.
As justice seekers and as voters, we remind our representatives that their decision to support or oppose SB 63 will resonate accordingly at the ballot box. We implore them to weigh the bill’s broader community impact, acknowledge the moral duty to protect the vulnerable, and seize this opportunity to reshape the criminal legal system into one that respects the dignity inherent to every human being.
Long ago, the prophet Micah recited a divine command to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” Today, we ask Georgia’s House of Representatives to heed that call and join us in a shared commitment to justice, mercy, and humility by opposing and publicly denouncing SB 63.
Rev. Devon Jerome Crawford
National Executive Director
The Multifaith Initiative to End Mass Incarceration