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December 11, 2017

The national ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice intends to end the policy of holding freedom hostage to for-profit bail companies 

ATLANTA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia joins the national ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice initiative to end the money bail system that is unfair to the majority of Georgia families. This initiative is a part of the national ACLU’s unprecedented, nationwide, multi-year campaign to reduce the U.S. jail and prison population by 50 percent and combat racial disparities within the criminal justice system. 

Many states have already begun to address these issues with a smarter approach. For example, Kentucky releases without bail about 70% of people awaiting the resolution of their cases. According to a report published by the Administrative Office of the Courts, Kentucky Court of Justice, “89% of those make all their future court appearances and 92% are not re-arrested while they are on pretrial release. …  [Kentucky] reduces jail costs in that jail space is saved for the convicted and not the accused.”
 
Although debtors’ prisons were outlawed in the 19th century, thousands of Georgians are jailed each year because they're unable to post cash bail.
 
59% of people in Georgia’s jails remain imprisoned without having been convicted of a crime.
 
It’s past time to end our nation’s current system of cash bail, because it neither improves public safety nor is it just.
 
“Freedom should never be compromised for corporate profits,” stated Andrea Young, Executive Director of the ACLU of Georgia. “Many families are unable to afford the profit-driven price of bail. Their loved ones remain locked up for weeks, months, and even years. While in jail, they can lose their families, jobs, and homes as they wait for their day in court. This is morally wrong.” 
 
Insurance Corporations Post $2 billion in Annual Profits 
The money bail system was originally designed to ensure that people returned to court as their case progressed. It has since transformed into a system where insurance companies target those least able to afford to pay bail, impacting poor and middle-class families alike. 
 
According to a recent report by Color of Change and the ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice, a small number of insurance companies collect their cut of nearly all the bail bond premiums collected by bail agencies. Nine bail insurers each underwrite a billion dollars in bonds to cover the vast majority of the estimated $14 billion in bonds posted by for-profit bail each year, yielding about $2 billion in industry profits. 
 
The ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice is expanding its bail reform efforts both federally and at the state level with this new initiative which not only protects recent reforms but also advocates for new or further reforms through an integrated campaign effort that includes targeted litigation, communications, and legislative advocacy. These efforts will include a ‘Bail Shark of the Month’ communications initiative to highlight the multinational insurance corporations driving the cash bail system that is hurting American families throughout the nation. 
 
 
Pretrial Reform in KentuckyPretrial Services, Administrative Offices of the Court, Kentucky Court of Justice,  January 2013
2 County Jail Inmate Population Report by the Office of Research, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, 11/20/2017  
 

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