Georgia’s Soaring Crime Rates Possibly Due to Nathan Deal’s Criminal Justice Reforms, Experts Say

 

Two separate things have likely enabled Georgia’s repeat violent offenders to go on breaking even more laws while, at the same time, forcing Atlanta’s crime rates to soar.

Unelected judges in Georgia are the first possible cause.

Former governor Nathan Deal’s criminal justice reforms are the second possible cause.

That’s the message that members of the Georgia Association of Professional Bondsman (GAPB) said they plan to pass along to state legislators later this week.

Members of the State Senate Public Safety Committee are scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday to discuss reversing Atlanta’s current crime trends. This, according to an agenda sheet on the Georgia General Assembly’s website.

GAPB spokesman Charles Shaw III previewed Wednesday’s hearing with The Georgia Star News.

“Recently in the last three to four years since the Nathan Deal criminal justice reforms, there have been a tremendous amount of offenders, particularly in Fulton and DeKalb county and Athens-Clarke County released unsecured, void of any bond. We are going to present some statistics and numbers of the specific number of offenders that have been released unsecured void of any bond, catch and release, get-out-of-jail free, for very serious violent offenses. These people have later gone on to reoffend and commit additional violent crimes or crimes of all sorts, particularly in the Fulton and DeKalb County area,” Shaw said.

“We want to put the statistics out there for the committee to infer as they may. One would suggest that the bail reform initiatives are not working, that there is no oversight, no accountability and, as a result of these people being caught and released, they are going out and perpetrating additional crimes. They are not showing up for court for their initial crimes. There is just a complete void of accountability and justice.”

Georgia State Representative Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) said last month at a House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee hearing that too no one in the state government wants mass incarceration. He went on to say he wants government officials to enforce the laws already on the books.

Deal, as Shaw went on to say, was “a criminal justice reformer.”

“I think [what Deal did] was well intended in application, but it was meant to unclog the system. He was a trailblazer. He wanted to create alternative forms of treatment of individuals who commit crimes, hopefully getting them out of the recidivism phenomenon,” Shaw said.

Deal served as Georgia governor from 2011 through 2019.

Shaw said the numbers he and his colleagues plan to present at Wednesday’s hearing “are staggering.”

“A lot of this is about judicial transparency and judicial accountability. Hey, you have someone charged with a crime. The court has a duty to look into the background of these people, and if you release them [then] do so so that citizens know that a judge released them without a bond or without conditions of release,” Shaw said.

“We also feel that elected judges need to do this so if these judges are aberrant or are irresponsible in their release process then the voters should have a right to release that judge. That is one of our big issues. Appointed judges versus elected judges are foremost doing these unsecured catch-and-releases, particularly in Fulton County.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Police Tape” by Tony Webster. CC BY-SA 4.0.

 

 

 

 

 

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