Decatur businessman pays bond for a stranger to get out of jail

A Decatur businessman on Tuesday paid a stranger’s bail so the man could be released from jail, where he had been held since his arrest in October for yelling at customers at a gas station.

Randall McCrary was arrested Oct. 22 at a Boulevard gas station where he was shouting obscenities at customers. According to the police report, McCrary, who is disabled because of mental illness, had covered himself with his own feces.

McCrary had been in jail since his arrest because neither he nor his family could afford to cover the $500 bond. An attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights filed a petition in court to have him released.

And then in stepped Nathaniel Robertson, who owns Delta Jet Bonding Co. of Decatur.

After The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on McCrary’s plight, Robertson was moved to pay the man’s bond. Robertson said he has posted bond for strangers fewer than a dozen times over the years, but he  was “moved” by news accounts of McCrary’s situation.

“It cost me $95,” Robertson said.

But it will cost him much more if McCrary doesn’t come to court when scheduled. He must pay the full $500 to the court if McCrary misses his court date.

“It was a chance I was willing to take,” Robertson said.

McCrary's case is the most recent to be highlighted as the Southern Center for Human Rights and Civil Rights Corps pushes the city to abandon its use of pre-set bail at Atlanta Municipal Court. The court presides over city ordinance violations and traffic offenses.

Critics, like Robertson and the civil rights groups, complain that the poor and mentally ill often remain in jail for minor offenses like loitering or impeding traffic while those with financial means go free.

“They shouldn’t be in jail,” Robertson said. “He (McCrary) had feces on him. You don’t take that man to jail. You take him to the hospital. You do something to get him some help.”

According to Sarah Geraghty, managing attorney at the Southern Center, McCrary’s mental health issues have left him disabled so he lives with his elderly mother and depended on Supplemental Security Income, which was terminated when he was jailed.