1) Bail reform can make our communities safer

The current system allows bail for those who can afford it, instead of ensuring that a person’s release won’t result in harm to someone else. Reforming the money-bail system will help focus public resources on community safety, and ensure that we no longer waste resources on incarcerating those who are not a public safety risk.

2) The current broken bail-for-profit system wastes billions of California taxpayer dollars every year

Many California jails are dangerously overcrowded. More than 60% of people incarcerated in jail have not been sentenced. They are being held while they wait for their trial. For most, bail has been set, but they remain behind bars because they cannot afford to pay bail. This costs California taxpayers $1.7 billion per year. Jail costs as much as 10 times more than the cost of outside monitoring. Money wasted on the current money-bail system comes at the expense of schools, road maintenance, and other public investments into resources that keep communities safe.

3) The California money-bail system is racially unjust and harms immigrant communities

Many Black, Latino, and low-income people and their families are least able to afford bail. Research has shown that bail amounts for Black men are 35% higher than white men and Latino men have a 19% higher bail amount than white men. For people who are undocumented, the inability to pay bail increases the risk of abrupt deportation. The Bail-for-Profit system separates families of color, and places tens of thousands of legally innocent people of color in California jails at great risk of losing jobs, housing, and custody of children.  

4) The current system essentially punishes people for being poor

Families pay thousands of dollars to for-profit companies to get their loved ones out of jail. Those companies keep the family’s money, even if the person comes back to court, and even if the person is eventually found not guilty. The money-bail system keeps those who cannot afford to post bond behind bars, making it harder for them to keep a job and support their families – even though they have not been convicted of any crime. This hurts workers and the businesses that depend on them.  The United States is one of only two countries that uses a money bail system.

5) Bail reform will advance the economic security of women

Within families, it is most often working women--mothers, grandmothers, daughters, wives--who risk their homes, cars, and property as collateral for a bail bond. These contracts of adhesion generally require a 10% non-refundable fee, even if a case is dismissed. Women take on exorbitant debt and the responsibility of ensuring court appearances of a loved one. The payment plans women enter into exacerbate their economic insecurity, and many are required to make difficult choices between meeting basic needs and paying a debt to a for-profit bail bonds company. One out of every four African American, Native American, and Latina women in California live in poverty. The money-bail system can be a financial trap for low-income women of California.

6) Community programs work

Instead of locking people up simply for being poor, we can use data that will allow us to make smarter decisions about how to keep our communities safe. These data-driven alternatives to Bail-for-Profit systems have worked in states like Kentucky, West Virginia and Colorado and in California counties, including Santa Clara and Santa Cruz. By significantly reducing Bail-for-Profit and reducing the number of people who are needlessly incarcerated pre-trial, we could reinvest those dollars into resources for communities that will actually improve public safety.

“Given that about 60 percent of people in California’s county jails are there because they can’t pay bail, the state’s policy appears hard to fathom. Its corollary effects — keeping suspects from working or going to class or taking care of their families and draining county budgets — are destructive.”
-    San Diego Union Tribune Editorial, April 6, 2017