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Atlanta mayor wants to get rid of bonding system for some crimes

The city of Atlanta is making it easier for some people to get out of jail. Leaders said too many people are forced to stay in jail because they're poor.

A homeless man who didn't want to be identified said he will never forget being locked up in the Atlanta City Detention Center and held in jail for five days.

All because he couldn't pay his $200 bond for jaywalking and resisting arrest.

"I didn't have the money, man. I said, 'Man, can ya'll give me to Friday? Give me to Friday, please,'" he said.

He told Channel 2's Tom Jones, his pleas fell on deaf ears. Now, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms wants to eliminate cash bonds for non-violent and non-repeat offenders.

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She and city council members said it doesn't make sense to lock people up for being poor.

Burrell Ellis with the ACLU of Georgia told Jones too many people are locked up for not being able to pay.

"They were accused of a crime but they can't afford bail so they just sit in our jails," Ellis said. 

Members of the bail community said the proposal will cause chaos in the courts.

"The city of Calhoun, since they've implemented some of these release without incentive have seen a 150 percent increase in failure to appear," said Scott Paul of Bail Industry.

The homeless man Jones spoke with says he doesn't know about all that. He just knows it makes sense not to hold people in jail because they can't pay.

"This ordinance, bottom line. This ordnance needs to be passed, man. A lot of people (are) in jail for petty stuff," he said. 

A signature bond won't be given to violent, repeat offenders or property theft suspects.

The public safety committee will discuss the proposal at a work session next week.

The chief municipal judge told the committee judges have already eliminated cash bonds for most suspects.

Atlanta mayor wants to get rid of bonding system for some crimes

The city of Atlanta is making it easier for some people to get out of jail. Leaders said too many people are forced to stay in jail because they're poor.

A homeless man who didn't want to be identified said he will never forget being locked up in the Atlanta City Detention Center and held in jail for five days.

All because he couldn't pay his $200 bond for jaywalking and resisting arrest.

"I didn't have the money, man. I said, 'Man, can ya'll give me to Friday? Give me to Friday, please,'" he said.

He told Channel 2's Tom Jones, his pleas fell on deaf ears. Now, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms wants to eliminate cash bonds for non-violent and non-repeat offenders.

TRENDING STORIES:

She and city council members said it doesn't make sense to lock people up for being poor.

Burrell Ellis with the ACLU of Georgia told Jones too many people are locked up for not being able to pay.

"They were accused of a crime but they can't afford bail so they just sit in our jails," Ellis said. 

Members of the bail community said the proposal will cause chaos in the courts.

"The city of Calhoun, since they've implemented some of these release without incentive have seen a 150 percent increase in failure to appear," said Scott Paul of Bail Industry.

The homeless man Jones spoke with says he doesn't know about all that. He just knows it makes sense not to hold people in jail because they can't pay.

"This ordinance, bottom line. This ordnance needs to be passed, man. A lot of people (are) in jail for petty stuff," he said. 

A signature bond won't be given to violent, repeat offenders or property theft suspects.

The public safety committee will discuss the proposal at a work session next week.

The chief municipal judge told the committee judges have already eliminated cash bonds for most suspects.

Family says city has ignored overgrown property for years

A family in northwest Atlanta said it feels neglected by the city after it allowed a property to go unmaintained for years. 

The Gates family has lived at a home on Holly Street for decades. They said the area used to be booming, but the city has since torn down duplexes and apartments. 

“Those apartments that were over there, duplexes that were here, they have been unmaintained for years and years. What you see is a product of that,” Freda Gates said.

Overgrown trees and bushes from an abandoned property have started to creep onto the Gates' property. 

“It is like a sense of gloom,” Gates said.

She said her grandmother, who recently passed away, brought the issue to the city’s attention years ago. Gates said she and her mother, who now owns the property, have contacted the city as well, but nothing has been done.

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“It was kind of like a slap in the face. She had to complain and nothing was done. Two days after she was in the ground, we get a letter from code enforcement,” Gates said.

The letter said the family must clean up the property by Thursday or face a fine.

“What we agreed to do is clean what grew from their land over our fence. We don’t want to do it, but we are going to have to do it because we don’t want to face that fine,” Gates said.

She said the blame should fall on the city.

“If they had attended to this property, none of this would have grown up and it wouldn’t look like this,” she said.

Channel 2’s Lauren Pozen contacted the City of Atlanta to ask about the overgrown abandoned property, but her calls were not returned.

Family says city has ignored overgrown property for years

A family in northwest Atlanta said it feels neglected by the city after it allowed a property to go unmaintained for years. 

The Gates family has lived at a home on Holly Street for decades. They said the area used to be booming, but the city has since torn down duplexes and apartments. 

“Those apartments that were over there, duplexes that were here, they have been unmaintained for years and years. What you see is a product of that,” Freda Gates said.

Overgrown trees and bushes from an abandoned property have started to creep onto the Gates' property. 

“It is like a sense of gloom,” Gates said.

She said her grandmother, who recently passed away, brought the issue to the city’s attention years ago. Gates said she and her mother, who now owns the property, have contacted the city as well, but nothing has been done.

TRENDING STORIES:

“It was kind of like a slap in the face. She had to complain and nothing was done. Two days after she was in the ground, we get a letter from code enforcement,” Gates said.

The letter said the family must clean up the property by Thursday or face a fine.

“What we agreed to do is clean what grew from their land over our fence. We don’t want to do it, but we are going to have to do it because we don’t want to face that fine,” Gates said.

She said the blame should fall on the city.

“If they had attended to this property, none of this would have grown up and it wouldn’t look like this,” she said.

Channel 2’s Lauren Pozen contacted the City of Atlanta to ask about the overgrown abandoned property, but her calls were not returned.

Man wanted in 20+ break-ins arrested as search continues for members of crime ring

A serial burglar wanted by several police agencies across metro Atlanta is now behind bars, but police said he wasn’t working alone.

Officers said Armani Hickson, 20, is part of a crew that pulled more than 20 burglaries and car break-ins, and there are at least three more suspects on the loose.

College Park police told Channel 2’s Nefertiti Jaquez that the serial thief has been on the run since the fall.

But now, Hickson is facing serious charges after several police agencies in the metro area found evidence linking him to more than 20 car thefts and home burglaries.

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“Today, when he was apprehended, he also had a gun on him. He tried to elude officers and get away,” Sgt. Marcus Dennard, with the College Park Police Department, said.

Detectives arrested Hickson around noon Tuesday.

Police said they tracked him to a Union City motel and found him hiding out in Room 303. Hickson wasn’t alone.

Police told Jaquez that Hickson's girlfriend, Alisha McDaniel, and another male were also in the room, where police recovered a stash of stolen keys, credit cards, guns and drugs.

“She’s been seen with him in a lot of these crimes,” Dennard said. “They think they’re untouchable.”

Hickson is no stranger to police.

Jaquez learned that, before this spree, he had just gotten out of jail after spending five years behind bars at the juvenile detention center.

POLICE: 20 year old Armani Hickson was arrested at this Union City hotel. Details @ 11 @wsbtv. pic.twitter.com/eLoLd2yEdW — Nefertiti Jáquez (@NefertitiWSB) January 24, 2018 He’s the suspect multiple police agencies in the Metro area have been looking for since the Fall. Now, detectives say they’ve got their guy. More @ 11 @wsbtv. pic.twitter.com/OyxP3ONkW3 — Nefertiti Jáquez (@NefertitiWSB) January 24, 2018

Man wanted in 20+ break-ins arrested as search continues for members of crime ring

A serial burglar wanted by several police agencies across metro Atlanta is now behind bars, but police said he wasn’t working alone.

Officers said Armani Hickson, 20, is part of a crew that pulled more than 20 burglaries and car break-ins, and there are at least three more suspects on the loose.

College Park police told Channel 2’s Nefertiti Jaquez that the serial thief has been on the run since the fall.

But now, Hickson is facing serious charges after several police agencies in the metro area found evidence linking him to more than 20 car thefts and home burglaries.

TRENDING STORIES:

“Today, when he was apprehended, he also had a gun on him. He tried to elude officers and get away,” Sgt. Marcus Dennard, with the College Park Police Department, said.

Detectives arrested Hickson around noon Tuesday.

Police said they tracked him to a Union City motel and found him hiding out in Room 303. Hickson wasn’t alone.

Police told Jaquez that Hickson's girlfriend, Alisha McDaniel, and another male were also in the room, where police recovered a stash of stolen keys, credit cards, guns and drugs.

“She’s been seen with him in a lot of these crimes,” Dennard said. “They think they’re untouchable.”

Hickson is no stranger to police.

Jaquez learned that, before this spree, he had just gotten out of jail after spending five years behind bars at the juvenile detention center.

POLICE: 20 year old Armani Hickson was arrested at this Union City hotel. Details @ 11 @wsbtv. pic.twitter.com/eLoLd2yEdW — Nefertiti Jáquez (@NefertitiWSB) January 24, 2018 He’s the suspect multiple police agencies in the Metro area have been looking for since the Fall. Now, detectives say they’ve got their guy. More @ 11 @wsbtv. pic.twitter.com/OyxP3ONkW3 — Nefertiti Jáquez (@NefertitiWSB) January 24, 2018

Former teacher says blowing whistle on cheating scandal cost

A special education teacher told Channel 2 Action News she tried to help her students during the Atlanta Public Schools cheating investigation but instead she lost her job.

Her lawyer told Channel 2's Mark Winne her evaluations changed from good to bad after she blew the whistle.

The case could come down to the question of whether Imogene Redwine is a casualty of coming forward to help expose the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal. It's not one of the many criminal cases that came through this same courthouse, but a lawsuit.

Redwine’s position, according to her lawyer, Julie Oinonen, is that she got good evaluations for years as a special ed teacher but after she blew the whistle on allegations of cheating at Brown Middle School, things changed, and during the time she cooperated with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Fulton County district attorney in their investigations of cheating in Atlanta Public Schools, she was targeted.

TRENDING STORIES:

Oinonen suggests that in the 2013-2014 school year as Redwine continued to work with the district attorney, she got bad evaluations her lawyer suggested were designed to get rid of her, and she lost her job.

Janna Nugent, representing Atlanta Public Schools, said the non-renewal of Redwine’s contract had nothing to do with the cheating scandal or her cooperation in exposing it.

Nugent alleges under enhanced state standards Redwine was rated less than proficient on some, though not all, of her evaluations and she lost her job based strictly on job performance. 

The first witness, Bob Wilson, said he was one of the governor's special investigators on the cheating scandal.

When asked if he was aware of anyone at Brown interfering with the investigation, he said, "I am not."

According to a document, the plaintiff said:

Ms. Redwine was gravely concerned that learning disabled students who struggled to read and write were obtaining such inflated scores that they were testing out of their special education status. 

The defense maintained the administrators in place at the time she lost her job were trying to safeguard the services to which special education students are entitled.

 

Former teacher says blowing whistle on cheating scandal cost

A special education teacher told Channel 2 Action News she tried to help her students during the Atlanta Public Schools cheating investigation but instead she lost her job.

Her lawyer told Channel 2's Mark Winne her evaluations changed from good to bad after she blew the whistle.

The case could come down to the question of whether Imogene Redwine is a casualty of coming forward to help expose the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal. It's not one of the many criminal cases that came through this same courthouse, but a lawsuit.

Redwine’s position, according to her lawyer, Julie Oinonen, is that she got good evaluations for years as a special ed teacher but after she blew the whistle on allegations of cheating at Brown Middle School, things changed, and during the time she cooperated with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Fulton County district attorney in their investigations of cheating in Atlanta Public Schools, she was targeted.

TRENDING STORIES:

Oinonen suggests that in the 2013-2014 school year as Redwine continued to work with the district attorney, she got bad evaluations her lawyer suggested were designed to get rid of her, and she lost her job.

Janna Nugent, representing Atlanta Public Schools, said the non-renewal of Redwine’s contract had nothing to do with the cheating scandal or her cooperation in exposing it.

Nugent alleges under enhanced state standards Redwine was rated less than proficient on some, though not all, of her evaluations and she lost her job based strictly on job performance. 

The first witness, Bob Wilson, said he was one of the governor's special investigators on the cheating scandal.

When asked if he was aware of anyone at Brown interfering with the investigation, he said, "I am not."

According to a document, the plaintiff said:

Ms. Redwine was gravely concerned that learning disabled students who struggled to read and write were obtaining such inflated scores that they were testing out of their special education status. 

The defense maintained the administrators in place at the time she lost her job were trying to safeguard the services to which special education students are entitled.

 

After controversial call, some want instant replay in Georgia HS football

Peach County High School supporters were so angry after losing the State AAA High School Football Championship game last December, they asked their state representative to introduce legislation to require instant replay at all championship games.

“They were very upset,” said State Rep. Patty Bentley, a Democrat from Butler. “Everyone. Football coaches, parents, grandparents. Everyone was upset about that call.”

The call happened in the final four minutes of the Peach County vs. Calhoun championship game with Peach down by 4.

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The Peach County quarterback lobbed a pass to his receiver rushing down the sidelines.

He caught the ball, but appeared to drop it as he was tackled crossing the goal line.

The referee ruled it an incomplete pass.

But on instant replay, the receiver appears to have caught the ball as he crossed the goal line, dropping it only after he hit the ground.

It would have been the go-ahead touchdown. However, Peach County went on to lose.

After a controversial call late in the GHSA Class AAA State Football Championship Game, some are calling for instant replay in HS football ... what do you think?— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) January 24, 2018

Bentley now wants a law requiring the Georgia High School Association to allow instant replay at championship games.

A spokesman for GHSA points out that requiring instant replay at all playoff games, which the current bill includes, would be cost prohibitive.

And, the spokesman added, the governing authority for all U.S. high school athletics strictly prohibits instant replay.

Still, Bentley thinks with a game that important, the refs should get it right, and should use instant replay to help.

“I want to make sure the other team (Calhoun) understands, it’s not about taking anything away from them,” Bentley said.  “This is about making sure things are correct going forward in the future.”

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