Everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty. I get that and I believe that’s the only just way to run a criminal justice system. While sometimes bad guys may walk free, it tends to minimize the number of innocent people who get locked up. In theory, anyway.
However, there are some people accused of crimes that may be a threat to society if returned to the streets prior to an acquittal. We keep them locked up and, if they’re innocent, they’re freed.
Unfortunately, it looks like Fulton County, Georgia–one of the counties that makes up Atlanta–may be releasing some of those folks back on the streets if something doesn’t change.
Just two weeks ago, Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis described the backlog of unindicted violent criminals as a crisis for the county.
The deadline to indict them passed on Tuesday. In a Wednesday morning news conference, Willis said she and her staff worked around the clock to keep many of them behind bars, despite a shortage of money and manpower.
“I’m tired ha, tired and a little bit relieved,” Willis said. “There’s now a 90-day rule that a defendant would be guaranteed a bond no matter what their crime is.
Willis said she and her staff have worked overtime to keep 193 murder defendants in jail. For perspective, she said in 2019 under the previous administration, there were 156 murder indictments the entire year.
“Today I am happy to announce not one individual in Fulton County will be released charged with the crime of homicide because of a lawyer or investigator failed to work up the case and failed to get it indicted,” Willis said.
Willis also says her office made it a point to charge “most vile sexual offenders” which is probably good news for the people of Atlanta.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of very dangerous people who didn’t fall into either of those categories.
I’m not necessarily blaming Willis for this. I’m not saying she’s blameless, either. I honestly don’t have enough information about the inner workings of the Fulton County DA’s office. If they worked their butts to the bone as Willis claims, then this is probably the best they could do and the issue is that they have insufficient resources to do the job the taxpayers both expect and deserve.
If they didn’t, well, I don’t really need to elaborate.
What matters right now, though, is that a lot of people are going to be returning to the streets who are dangerous, deadly people. More than a few will be looking for revenge. This is not going to help the homicide rate in the city by any stretch of the imagination.
For folks who live in Fulton County, it’s up to them to call for answers as to just why this is happening and, if it’s too few resources, demand that to change.
I can’t do it from almost four hours south of them. They have to do it themselves.
After all, it’s their kids that may end up in the crossfire.