For those who aren’t aware, Senate Bill 10, or SB 10, is an initiative in the California State Senate to eliminate California’s bail system. Despite the protestation of the Association of California Judges and law enforcement agencies across the state, the bill remains in play in the state government.
Eliminating California’s bail system would have disastrous effects on the crime rates across the state by allowing violent criminals to remain on the streets pending their trials. Another, often overlooked yet important, feature of SB 10 is that it would put the victims of violent crimes at serious risk by circumventing some incredibly important features of Marsy’s Law.
Marsy’s Law was named after Marsy Nicholas, a UCSB senior who was stalked and murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Though it took 25 years for the law to pass, Marsy’s Law amended the state Constitution by significantly expanding the Victims’ Bill of Rights. There were 17 rights afforded victims under Marsy’s Law, including the right (upon request) to be informed of, and given the opportunity to provide testimony before an accused defendant is released. The purpose of this right is to make the court aware of the defendant’s behavior and any potential threat he or she may pose to the alleged victim of the crime. Currently, should the defendant be found a serious threat, it’s possible that they would not be allowed bail.
Currently, when setting bail, a judge is to “take into consideration the seriousness of the offense charged, the previous criminal record of the defendant, and the probability of his or her appearance at the trial hearing of the case.” If SB 10 were to pass, thereby eliminating California’s bail system, the alleged victims of violent crimes would have no part in whether or not the defendant is released from police custody. Furthermore, judges’ discretion would be significantly hindered — if not eliminated outright – as SB 10 will only allow information about the current case to be considered when someone is charged with a crime; their criminal history will not be taken into account.
SB 10, if passed, would inevitably result in the release of individuals charged with serious and violent crimes, and would, in turn, put the alleged victims of those crimes in danger. Not only would it flood the streets with alleged criminals, but it would rescind very important rights currently held by the victims of these crimes, which took 25 years to enact.