Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

Entering 150 Autos

Posted by Maggie on January 9, 2008

Imagine the following scenario. A group of black teenagers plot together to break into unlocked cars and take items inside. Over several days they get into more than 100 vehicles and make off with plenty of stolen goods. They are only caught when a family member reports them. They’re all arrested and now we address the issue of bond.

If the kids are in school and still live with their parents, I can imagine them being allowed bond. Though if they were adults on their own, I can imagine them getting bond denied for the sheer volume of crimes. Still, you’d expect something hefty, right? This was obviously deliberate, an attempt to profit off of others with little regard for the damage they caused.

This scenario is completely real with one change. The boys aren’t black. They’re 5 Whites and 1 Asian from a good school. If you see their pictures here, you’d think they may look a lot like your average upper-middle class suburban teenager. These kids obviously put a lot of effort into their crimes. What’s troubling is how they’re being treated.

Their bonds are $50,000. Relatively small potatoes for the volume and sheer audacity of their scheme. They were all given signature bonds and I’d be shocked if they spent more than a few hours in jail. (Early reports had them back at school nearly right away.) They planned to sell the items on ebay. But one victim refused to press charges, saying they’d “been punished enough.”

This is even more troubling because Entering an Auto’s have been absolutely rampant around Atlanta. And from what I’ve heard, the great majority of it has been juveniles and teenagers. And Atlanta PD has been doing everything it can to keep those kids locked up, I even heard one officer express frustration that the Juvenile System favors letting the kids out. I can’t imagine any one of those kids getting the same kind of treatment as these boys from North Fulton. And yet, the white kids had no real reason to steal anything, they probably have parents who work and put food on the table, they live in nice homes and committed crimes most likely out of boredom. They probably don’t have a single relative in jail, or friends dropping out of school or getting pregnant, they probably don’t have the pressure to “get out” of their neighborhoods. These kids have no mitigating circumstances whatsoever and yet seem to be on easy street.

The issue of racism in Atlanta is one that comes up a lot, but a lot of people dismiss it. The north end of the city is mostly white, the south end mostly black. But this case really shows just how far apart they really are.

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2 Responses to “Entering 150 Autos”

  1. Chuck said

    I am going to respectfully disagree with you on this one. When a young kid who is in school gets busted for something like this and has no record, there is an excellent chance that kid is going to be approved for pretrial release and eligible for a signature bond. There may be some strict conditions on the SOB, like curfews and intense scrutiny (level 3), but I can say from experience that, even if these kids were black (as they often are), they would at least be considered for signature bonds.

    SOBs are usually given depending on prior records. None of these kids had prior records so I would argue they should all be eligible. It usually has nothing to do with race.

    In Fulton County, it’s a rarity when bond is denied for any crime other than one of the 7 deadlies. Unless there is an open case or a probation warrant …

  2. Maggie said

    I hope you’re right. I’ve heard from more than one officer that they’re taking as many of those kids off the street as possible. They like to brag, but I hope they’re all talk. Perhaps it’s that I’m hearing them at community meetings where they’re trying to make people feel safe.

    If those boys had been in a more rural area, though, they may still be in jail with some judges I know.

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