Atlanta “ends” Cash Bail requirements

(Activists celebrate the passing of a new law that exempts bail requirements on certain misdemeanor offenses.)

 

On Tuesday, February 6th, 2017, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, signed an ordinance Tuesday that eliminates the Municipal Court’s cash bond requirement for certain low-level offenders who otherwise would be forced to sit in jail due to being unable to afford a bond.

The Atlanta Mayor stated, “…It makes no fiscal sense to hold someone in jail over a $500 bond”.

According to the many reports, after six hours of public comment and debate Monday afternoon, the City Council approved the ordinance 13-0. The bail bond industry itself appeared to be the main opponent of this law during public comments. However, citizens largely supported this effort. Sure, the bail-bonds industry may lose a little money, alas, families will be safe from the racketeering system that our legal system has become!

Like in all matters of the law, we have to strike a balance between liberty and security; Protecting the logical rights of men and their properties, while not creating monopolies that only the wealthy and the governments themselves can understand or afford to participate in. That’s the problem with our current legal system. The legal system is a glorified socialized “gun” that we use to point at one another in a “civilized” courtroom. However, it doesn’t make society any fairer or safer when that shared use of force can only be afforded by certain groups of people. Namely, the extremely poor who can claim to be “indigent” , or the extremely rich who can afford the best lawyers or to pay off judges. It is the middle-class who has no remedy. They don’t qualify for low-income exceptions, and they cannot afford a legal team of their own. Where do they go?

The legal industry and the for profit prison system, nicknamed the “Prison Industrial Complex”by many, benefits the state departments, judges, prison investors, bail bondsmen, lawyers, and police officers looking to keep their quota numbers up. However, this sort of “for profit” legal system creates another hurdle for the poor looking to get a leg-up.

Public urination, driving on a suspended license, an unpaid traffic ticket, simple possession of marijuana, — these are not charges synonymous with dangerous criminals who may flee the country or state, they are merely “infractional” petty offenders. To hold these people on a bond, who probably can’t afford the bail money, will sit in jail over such infractions whereas they are likely to lose their jobs and further slip into the cycle of legal penalties which facilitates poverty and loss of family ties.

The system doesn’t seem to care. As long as they are pulling in revenue for the system, lawmakers appear oblivious to long-term impacts on low-income families looking to escape poverty. According to statisticbrain.comthe average police officer in the USA pulls in about $300,000 per year in revenue from citations. That’s about $6,232,000,000 per year nationally! That’s a lot of revenue for infractions that could largely be forgiven, warned, or overlooked.  If I receive a seat-belt ticket, and am forced to pay the state $50, how does that solve any problems? If I cannot afford the ticket, my license will be suspended, taking away my ability to get to and from work, further forcing my family into the bellows of poverty. If I get caught driving on a suspended license, I go jail.

Holding a prisoner isn’t cheap either. It costs taxpayers about $31,000 per year to feed, clothe, and house an inmate.  That’s about $85 per day, much more than the cost of your average citation. But, the prison investors, bail bondsmen, law makers, government workers and attorneys who make money mitigating these issues don’t care about tax-payers or at risk families. They care about profit margins and expanding department budgets!

Some may say, “Just follow the law and it won’t be a problem!”.  We must ask ourselves, why does the United States have the largest prison population in the world? Over 70% of our inmates are non-violent! It’s a money scheme! It costs $500 to legally operate a lemonade stand in America! The average American commits three misdemeanors and a felony per day without even realizing it! Literally every inch of American life has a statute or code attached to it! If the legal system can’t get you for running a red-light, maybe they can get you for being a “public nuisance” or for the bumper on your car being one inch lower than what statute allows. The more laws we create, the more criminals we create by default! It is an inadvertent consequence stemming from good intentions; or perhaps it is all designed purposely to be this way? Or perhaps, the truth is somewhere in the middle?

Regardless, this reform effort that the city of Atlanta has made, thanks to so many passionate advocates and leaders like Atlanta based attorney Gerald A. Griggs, who championed this effort, is a welcomed change! It is so rare for attorneys and politicians to come together on behalf of the poor. When these instances happen, they deserve all of our applause and credit.! I salute Mayor Lance-Bottoms and all of those who fought for the repealment of such archaic bail practices.

Sure, if a man is wanted for malicious battery,murder, rape, robbery, or grand theft auto, it makes sense to put a bail requirement on him/her. Alas, those who are subject to a bail requirement for petty offenses are merely pieces of evidence proving what a corrupt system we have. This new change in the law is an excellent move and I pray that all cities follow suit!  This may seem like a small victory, but in reality, it can potentially turn into a huge wave of momentum in terms of criminal law reform.

Please send your special thanks to:

Gerald A. Griggs,

https://www.geraldagriggs.com/

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

https://www.atlantaga.gov/government/mayor-s-office/meet-the-mayor

 

—And all other activists who assisted in this effort!

 

-Randell Stroud

Nalini-Global

2018

 

Non-profit Calls out to Martial Artists & Boxers

“Nalini” aka “Nalini Global”, is a non-profit organization based out of Nashville,Tn. Its core goals are to improve the lives of children domestically and abroad with a concentration on southeast Asian countries like Cambodia,Laos, and Thailand, through a variety of methods including donating money to crumbling school districts, hungry families, and taking part in local community works projects like teaching boxing classes, giving seminars on Asian/Buddhist cultures, clean-up projects, and more. In this article, we will focus on how the martial arts and spirituality can give a struggling soul the chance to thrive.  Anyone who has knowledge of Asian culture knows the correlations between martial arts, spirituality, and their focus on self-improvement.

One of Nalini’s founding members has a background in martial arts and decided to pay homage to this revelation by seeking out professional fighters and prominent martial artists to represent “Nalini”, by sporting their apparel during fights or promotional outings.   If one were to travel to Thailand or China, this marriage of spirituality and martial arts are not uncommon. In fact, many Muay Thai kickboxers allow Buddhist monks to tattoo their backs with protection mantras/spells written in Sanskrit alongside other symbolic symbols or famous deities like the powerful “Hanuman”.  In Cambodia, they have a similar tradition through their form of kickboxing known as “Pradal Serey.”

Before Muay Thai or Pradal Serey bouts, fighters often perform a dance like warm-up called the “Wai Kru” in Thailand. It serves as a way to loosen up, pay respect to teachers, and to gain favor from karma. The fighters also wear special arm bands and headbands during their Wai Kru dance that are often soaked in holy water and blessed by Buddhist monks in order to offer the fighter protection from physical harm.

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(Children performing the Wai Kru ritual to pay respects to their teachers and to the ways of Karma.) 

In China, many of their martial art systems also incorporate Buddhist and Taoist forms of meditation and philosophy ingrained into their training routines.  Western martial arts like Boxing and Wrestling also have correlations with adhering to honor codes and creeds as well. While these arts are not as esoteric and mystical as Muay Thai or Kung Fu, the same process of self-realization, discipline, respect, and self-awareness are still quite profound. In fact, a part of what we do here at Nalini incorporates the teaching of martial arts to local children free of charge as a way to give back to the community.

The word “Nalini” literally translates as “Lotus”. In  Buddhist lore, the lotus represents the struggle to become enlightened, as a lotus sprout must rise through muddy waters in order to reach full bloom. Just as a fighter must start out as a weakling before conditioning his/her body to become strong and mind focused.

Considering these things, it makes perfect sense to reach out to fighters and martial artists to represent Nalini. We are looking to sit down with active fighters and coaches, interview them on how martial arts has helped them grow spiritually, and have them wear our apparel during one of their promotions, fights, or media outings. It is a win-win-win situation. Everyone benefits!  One local Cambodian-American fighter by the name of “Kosal Bun”, who has a Muay Thai fight coming up in June, has agreed to be our first spotlighted fighter who we will soon write an article on.

So, if you are a fighter, coach, or well known martial artist and want to support a great cause, please contact us @ NaliniGlobal@yahoo.com  or for a faster response, message us on our facebookpage @ www.facebook.com/Naliniglobal

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(Pick up a Nalini Boxing shirt from our store page! Complete with a Sanskrit protection spell written on the back!) click here  (proceeds from any shirt sales will go towards volunteer efforts)

TEAM NALINI- 2016