California Money Bail Reform Act of 2017 (SB 10 & AB 42)
Money bail has created a two-tier system of justice in California – one for the rich, and one for everyone else.
The current money bail system gives the rich a “get out of jail” pass, while punishing everyone else with detention and debt.
All too often in California, people who have been arrested but not convicted of a crime are locked in jail for weeks, months, or even years while they wait for trial. Many would be able to return home, if they could afford to post bail.
Sometimes, people are detained – especially people of color – because of baseless arrests or mix-ups, but the consequences are swift, devastating, and long lasting. In California, one-third of felony cases are dropped or the person is later found innocent.
But even short stays in jail can cost people their jobs, cars, homes, and even custody of their children. We inflict this harsh punishment on people who are presumed innocent and have actually not been convicted of a crime.
California can build on proven models
Several California counties and states across the country have adopted reforms to truly promote the economic security, wellbeing, and safety of their communities. California can follow their lead by replacing our current one-size-fits-all money bail system with a system that:
· Makes sure we aren’t locking up people because they can’t afford to post bail;
· Takes a case-by-case approach;
· Prioritizes alternative services to ensure people make their court appearances; and
· Addresses racial and economic disparities in the justice system.
In Kentucky, for example, the state releases about 70 percent of people that are awaiting trial. 90 percent of the people Kentucky releases make all future court appearances and 92 percent are not re-arrested while on pretrial release.
“…fixing the state’s antiquated bail system must remain in the mix, for it is neither fair nor advantageous for anyone but the owners of bail bonds companies.”
- Sacramento Bee Editorial, April 7, 2017
“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
“There are ways to scale back the use of bail without compromising public safety, and California needs to try them.”
- San Francisco Chronicle Editorial, April 2, 2017