Charities that run bail-funds for suspected rioters to be criminalized under new Georgia senate bill

Feb 2, 2024 | Political News

On Thursday, the Georgia State Senate passed a sweeping bill that places new restrictions on charitable groups involved with bailing out riot-related suspects. The bill will also expand the cash bail system, hindering repeat offender's chances of being bailed out of jail. 

This legislation is partly in response to the dozens of criminal riot arrestees who have been hit with RICO and terrorism charges over crimes committed during the ongoing Antifa-backed “Stop Cop City” demonstrations. 

The bill, which is listed under SB 63, passed in the Georgia Senate by a 30-17 margin on Thursday and will move to the House of Representatives for a vote on Tuesday. The bill is expected to pass in both chambers and will then make its way to Gov. Brian Kemp's office to be signed into law. 

The new law will add 30 additional charges that would be ineligible for signature bonds, or unsecured judicial releases. These additional charges are associated with crimes committed during protests which include unlawful assembly, obstruction of a law enforcement officer, street racing, etc. Only elected and appointed judges will be allowed to set bonds in Georgia once the law goes into effect, terminating the ability of unelected and unappointed judges to preside over bond hearings in place of a vacancy. 

The bill also limits the amount of times any individual, business, or organization can post cash bail per year. 

“No more than three cash bonds may be posted per year by any individual, corporation, organization, charity, nonprofit corporation, or group in any jurisdiction,” the bill reads. 

The Atlanta Solidarity Fund, one of the largest bail organizations in the country that has helped out Antifa-affiliated and far-left suspects involved with crimes committed during “Stop Cop City” demonstrations, will be significantly impacted by this development.

 

A spokesman for the fund, Marlon Kautz, told the Atlanta Community Press Collective, “Courts usually aren’t allowed to hold someone in jail before evidence has been presented and they’ve had a chance to defend themselves.” 

Georgia Bail Funds must register as professional bail bondsmen with the appropriate sheriffs in each county where they plan to operate in order to continue paying bail for people who have been arrested, the outlet reports. 

This registration requires fingerprints and a thorough background check that is carried out by the relevant sheriffs and the FBI. In order to obtain a surety bond, registered bail bondsman organizations must turn to a third-party corporation, as they are still unable to pay more than three cash bonds annually. 

Additionally, professional bondsmen are prohibited by Georgia law from recommending defense attorneys to clients seeking bond. Another typical function of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund is to match defendants with attorneys. 

In Georgia, a violation of this provision is punishable by a misdemeanor. 

In May 2023, an Atlanta Police Department SWAT team and GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigations) agents raided the residence of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund and charged three of its organizers—including Kautz—with money laundering and charity fraud. The raid garnered national attention. 

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, along with 58 other individuals, indicted these three organizers on racketeering charges as part of a crackdown on a multi-year protest movement against the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, which has been dubbed by violent demonstrators as “Cop City.”  

In a news release issued in June following the arrest of its organizers, the Atlanta Solidarity Fund stated that it commenced operations in 2016 “with the purpose of providing resources to protestors experiencing repression,” according to the outlet. “We guarantee the protection of their rights within the criminal justice system and facilitate their access to legal representation to help them navigate the legal system.”