The model that is driving the momentum for bail reform is the federal system, where defendants are often required to meet specific conditions for pretrial release (e.g., drug treatment, surrender of passports, electronic monitoring) or to sign contracts imposing stiff fees for non-appearance.
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.
'Our old system of money bail was outdated, unsafe, and unfair.
The amendment to put the risk assessment power in the hands of local courts turned off some supporters of the bill, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which fears that will contribute to "racial biases and disparities that permeate our justice system", according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Jerry Brown said in a statement. "Already home to 500,000 clean energy jobs and the largest manufacturing powerhouse in the United States, California is proving that it can be done". People with normal income levels and below who can't pay sky-high bails are often forced to choose between taking a plea deal for a crime they may not have committed or sitting in jail for weeks or months before their case goes to trial. But after the bill was rewritten, the ACLU no longer supported the bill, saying it gave too much discretion to judges to keep people locked up awaiting trial.
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Authors of the bill, Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), acknowledge that it is a work in progress. With the new law, judges can make the determination with what the bill refers to as "pretrial assessment services" which will do a "risk assessment".
Other Blue states, including New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey, are said to be considering similar initiatives.
California will eliminate cash bail. Key provisions under the new law require most suspects arrested for nonviolent misdemeanors will be released within 12 hours of being booked.
With someone's release now determined by individualized factors including current charges and prior convictions, pretrial freedom is no longer exclusively for the most well-heeled criminal defendants.
What do you think of Senate Bill 10 and the new era for California courts?