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Some low level misdemeanors mean no jail time in Muscogee County

In Muscogee County, certain misdemeanors that would usually land you behind bars will no longer result in jail time, at least until you can go before a judge.
Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 9:43 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - In Muscogee County, certain misdemeanors that would usually land you behind bars will no longer result in jail time, at least until you can go before a judge.

According to John Wade, Public Relations Director for the Muscogee County Sherriff’s Office, changes are coming to how low level misdemeanors are handled. Possession of drug related objects, shoplifting, driving with a suspended license, failure to have car insurance, and not having a valid drivers license will no longer land someone behind bars.

According to Wade, the move is about cutting cost to house people who are not violent offenders. Wade adds, the ‘non-booking’ procedure is also about safety. He told News Leader 9, they want to make sure COVID numbers stay low in the jail, and ensuring non violent offenders don’t come in contact with violent offenders.

“First of all, we want to make the public aware, these are not violent individuals. They’re still being arrested, they’re just going to be given a court date and released. A lot of departments do this. We should have been doing it a long time ago. Taking these people to appointments and etcetera, we incur that cost and in turn the tax payer incurs that cost.”, said Wade. “Sometimes we get caught up in the same way of doing business, but in this day and age, we got to rethink the way we do things.”

Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Chief Judge, Gil McBride, was unavailable to meet face to face but in a text, to News Leader 9, said, “The change applies strictly to where defendants will be physically situated while awaiting a court date. The change has nothing to do with sentencing, which is determined by the judge based solely on state law in most instances. The usual potential period for a misdemeanor, upon conviction, will remain up to twelve months per count unless and until the legislature changes the law. This change cannot occur at the local level. This policy change only applies to who will be booked into the jail pending trial or disposition of their charges, not what the sentence will be. It will simply bring Muscogee County in line with other jurisdictions.”

“I do hope they do re-look at how they house a lot of people, because it’s a lot of people who shouldn’t be there.”, said Shantoria Hollis.

Cole Gerrard, a Columbus man, said, “I think the driving violations, I think that’s a pretty major offense, but all the other items on the list I don’t think people should be arrested for.”

News Leader 9 also reached out to Columbus police department to see if the new ‘non-booking’ procedure would impact their policing. Officials said they won’t be able to comment on it until after they’ve had a chance to meet.

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