COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – New misdemeanor policy changes for the Muscogee County Jail do not affect sentencing, but they do affect where someone arrested on certain misdemeanor charges will be located during their processing.
The new policies put in place by Muscogee County Sheriff Greg Countryman and backed by judiciary officials, will simply mean those brought in for certain misdemeanor crimes like first offense misdemeanor shoplifting, driving without a license, driving while one’s license is suspended unless they have three or more prior offenses, no motor vehicle insurance unless they have two or more prior offenses and possessing a drug related object will no longer be housed in the jail while waiting for their court date.
Instead offenders of these low-level crimes will be brought in, given a summons to appear in court on a certain date and time and from there they are sent home. This in no way impacts the sentencing for these crimes.
In a phone interview with News 3 Superior Court Judge Gil McBride breaks this down even further.
“Bottom Line is, it has nothing at all to do with sentencing,” said McBride. “Once someone goes to jail and bonds out or once their given a summons, either way they wind up in the same place ultimately and that’s in a courtroom. And in that courtroom there is a trial or there is a plea and that’s when you talk about sentencing.”
Director of Affairs for Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office John Wade said the changes happened for multiple reasons like preventing overcrowding, cost and more.
“To address all of these issues we take an approach to where they will be summons and release that policy, that potential policy was discussed with members of the judiciary and they reviewed it, they gave us input and they back us in this strategy to change the way we do business,” said Wade.
Wade said it’s important that the public notes this does not mean people who are a danger to society will walk free until their court date.
“We want the public to know, we understand there are some concerns this is a change in the way we do business, and we want the public to know that your safety is our concern and none of these individuals who will be released under this new policy will be a danger to public safety,” said Wade. “And if they are deemed a danger to public safety through our analysis, we will take appropriate action and we will not allow that individual to be summoned and released and we will in fact house them in the jail, but that will be done on a case by case basis.”
In addition to this Wade said it in no way will allow large amounts of criminals to be released from jail.
“This is not opening the floodgates to letting mass amount of criminals out of the jail, this is not a socialist agenda,” said Wade. “This is just doing things a different way and trying to work smarter ya know, at the jail. There’s been a host of different issues at the jail prior to this administration taking over and we’re trying to avoid those type of situations from taking place here.”
These changes do not apply to all misdemeanor charges only the ones listed above.