“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.