Just this week, SB10 – California’s Bail Reform Law, has passed the State Assembly and now goes back to the Senate to decide whether or not they want to send it to the Governor’s desk. The bill passed by the bare minimum that senate rules allow, and the very same day voting took place, several previous backers of the bill pulled their support. Among those is the American Civil Liberties Union, saying that recent changes to the bill gave too much power to judges to decide who does and does not deserve to be freed while they await their court date.
These decisions, the ACLU claims, open doors wide open for several forms of discrimination, including racial, sex, gender, etc. – all of which currently permeate our criminal justice system at every level. Judges already have the power to reduce or even eliminate bail requirements for defendants who can’t afford to pay bail for their release. Those who aren’t deemed a threat to the community are either released or given a smaller bail amount.
A number of additional groups opposed to the bill’s passage, including the California Public Defender’s Association, that foresee more people being detained post-arrest after bail is eliminated. The bill only allows for the release of non-violent misdemeanor offenders, while most felony defendants and violent misdemeanor defendants will remain in jail without the possibility of ever getting out before their trial. Also, by removing the bail system entirely, the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution is called into question. In the Amendment, it states that:
“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
The wording of the 8th Amendment begs the questions: In mandating that excessive bail shall not be required, does it not also imply that bail is a right that citizens if the U.S. should have? Under current U.S. law, a person is “innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” meaning that without the possibility of bail, innocent people will be held in jail until their case goes to trial (which can take several months, or even years) or until they’re forced to plead guilty to the crime (which they may not have committed) in an attempt to get out of jail. Wouldn’t jailing innocent people be considered “cruel and unusual punishment?”
If SB10 is signed into law, it’s going to change things significantly for our state, and it’s going to cost us a lot more. For example:
Will cost Calif. counties collectively $3.8 billion per year (Washington D.C. system costs $65 million with a population of only 670,000 people).
Counties will be forced to apply to the Commission on State Mandates for Cost Reimbursement. This process alone will take years to sort out and will put immense pressure on every county to first implement and outlay resources with a speculative chance at savings, only then to determine the net costs.
Will require every county to develop and staff a pretrial services department. The defendant cannot be charged any costs for services or ordered to reimburse the county, regardless of a defendant’s ability to pay.
Will crowd out funding for other county programs and agencies like the district attorney’s office, the public defender’s office, the sheriff’s office and mental health services.
More than triple the time that each person spends in jail pretrial because it completely eliminates a person’s right to post bail. Instead, every arrestee will languish in jail until that person’s case is reviewed by a judge.
Will significantly increase the number of fugitives within the state and warrants for their arrest. (Presently there are approx. 1.7 million warrants in the system, at a cost of $1775 per FTA (Research Report, Dallas County Texas 2014 Study calculates to over $3 billion.)
Persons accused of committing a violent crime, including some misdemeanors, will not be reviewed for release.
Will cause the incarceration of more pretrial defendants because it eliminates the bail schedule.
Cause the court to release high-risk defendants without bail – bail provides defendants a financial incentive to appear in court, along with friends and family that cosign on the bail bond.
Will take away the rights of the 300,000+ (Ca Bail Ins. Companies – PPIC May 2017 Pretrial Report) defendants who choose to bail out in CA each year (at no cost to the taxpayers)
Essentially, eliminating bail under SB10 will cause people to sit in jail even longer until a judge can personally review their case, take vital funds from an already budget-stretched police department, and it will put potentially violent offenders back on the street. Call your State Senator today to tell them you want them not to send SB10 to the governor. The police don’t like it, the ACLU doesn’t like it, the California Association of Judges doesn’t like it, and neither will you.