July 3, 2022

California becomes first state to end cash bail

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From WN

A corrections officer walks down a hallway in a building at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, where a newly cleared wing is set to house inmates from other prisons that could close, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in Camp Hill, Pa. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)From WN

California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Tuesday which makes it the first state to eliminate bail for suspects awaiting trial by replacing it with a new risk-assessment system that gives the state’s judicial council more control over pretrial detention policies, according to CBS News.

The law will go into effect in October 2019.

Currently, California’s bail system is set according to a list of fixed fees which depend on the severity of the crime, but those can vary widely depending on the county.

Offenders are required to post the amount upfront or pay a 10% fee to a bond company in order to be released; while those who can’t afford the fee are incarcerated up to an addition 48 hours or longer before they are formally charged and arraigned.

Advocates argued the system was prone to abuse by both bail agents and bounty hunters who face little regulation or training requirements, which puts marginalized communities at risk of fraud, embezzlement, or violence.

Under Senate Bill 10, counties would have to form their own pretrial service agencies that would use analysis to help determine if people should be released and on what conditions.

Each county’s superior court will establish its own procedures for determining who to release before trial, potentially creating a patchwork system which would change depending on where a suspect lives.

Most of those accused of nonviolent felonies will be released within 12 hours of booking, while those who are charged with more serious or violent crimes will remain in jail before their trial.

Though it’s still unclear which suspects would fall into each category, the new law would give judges a wider latitude in determining what to do with suspects based on their likelihood of returning to court and any dangers they pose to the public.

There has been a growing national debate over the practice of cash bail, which many argue unfairly punishes the poor.

New Jersey, Alaska, and New Mexico have all taken steps to overhaul their own bail systems, but no other state has previously eliminated bail.

California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who helped create the new law by forming a judicial task force which studied the issue for a year, said the current money-bail system was “outdated, unsafe and unfair.”

“Our path to a more just criminal justice system is not complete, but today it made a transformational shift away from valuing private wealth and toward protecting public safety,” the law’s author, state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a Democrat from Van Nuys, said in a statement.

But some advocates are worried about the changes, including John Raphling, a senior researcher with the nonprofit Human Rights Watch, said the new system would be “empowering judges to take away our liberty based on biased algorithms and the judges’ own subjective choices, with no standards and no due process.”

Gina Clayton Johnson, executive director of Essie Justice Group which is an organization which advocates for women with family members detained in prison, said they were concerned about the policy leading to even more incarceration since there’s no protection to ensure it doesn’t repeat the same racial bias that exists in the criminal justice system.

“This is a bill that has confused a lot of people because it does do something very positive, which is to end the bail industry,” she said. “Yet what we had to trade for that win actually sets us further back.”

Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, who works for the American Civil Liberties Union on criminal justice reform, said many states have been watching the steps California takes since the organization has been in talks with 30 states about overhauling their own bail systems.

But Dooley-Sammuli said now the ACLU was warning them from using the California model since it won’t ensure due process or prevent discrimination based on race.

-WN.com, Maureen Foody

For more on this story and video go to: https://article.wn.com/view/2018/08/29/California_Becomes_First_State_To_End_Cash_Bail/

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