Thursday, 18 October, 2018

California Becomes the First State to Officially Eliminate Cash Bail

FILE 2018 California Gov. Jerry Brown will reportedly consider three bills intended to add restrictions on gun ownership in his state Gov. Brown Signs Bail Reform Bill
Eleanor Moreno | 30 August, 2018, 13:14

In California, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to eliminate cash bail for those awaiting trial.

The new law, enacted in response to a state court decision declaring the old system of cash bail an unconstitutional denial of due process, places California at the forefront of one prong of the national criminal justice reform movement, which encompasses a variety of different measures (including most notably sentencing reform) to reduce the human and fiscal costs of unnecessary incarceration.

The ACLU and California progressives pointed to bail injustices revealed in a New York City Criminal Justice Agency study that found non-felony conviction rates jumped from 50 to 92 percent for those jailed pre-trial, while the felony rate jumped from 59 to 85 percent.

What does the new law do?

The bill was approved by the legislature on August 21.


"It can not guarantee a substantial reduction in the number of Californians detained while awaiting trial, nor does it sufficiently address racial bias in pretrial decision making", leaders of three American Civil Liberties Union chapters in California said in a joint statement.

Advocates of abolishing bail contend that too many defendants remain stuck in custody because they can not afford to bail out, effectively creating unequal justice based on wealth.

These same arguments have been heard in other states that have undertaken bail reform, notably New Jersey, which all but abolished cash bail past year. "Since the criminal justice system operates in discriminatory ways - disproportionately harming communities of color, women, and low-income people - these algorithmic assessments can be unsafe". Through October, the county jail population dropped by 17 percent statewide. A year and a half on, the sky hasn't fallen. The new law grants broad discretion to judges to hold or release defendants. "That this is the best deal California could figure out is a big concern". Federal courts, of course, don't hear most "street crime" cases.

"[It] goes a long way to make our justice system more fair and equitable", said Gloria. These appearance and public-safety numbers are both higher than the national average.

California already has a long history of renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction accomplishments that set it apart as not only a leading voice in the United States but as a global environmental leader with the commitment and heft to push others to step up their own game. Weber and her allies scaled back the bill last week, removing a provision that would have made it easier to prosecute police who kill civilians, in a bid to shore up political support.

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