The State Legislature is meeting very soon to vote on the passage of SB10 – California’s Bail Reform Law. Backers of the bill would have you believe that the only reason people remain in jail is because they’re too poor to afford bail. If passed, their proposed reform would eliminate bail entirely and instead replace it with a completely new system that would put the majority of suspected criminals out on the street while they await their day in court.
The first falsehood that SB10 proponents are trying to put over on you is that the only thing keeping people in jail is their ability to pay for bail. There are about 75,000 people in jail in California, 63% of whom have at least one open case. The reality is that these people are in jail not because they can’t afford bail, but because they’re either not eligible for bail (because the crimes they’re alleged to have committed are serious), parole or probation violations, or because they would be dangerous to the community if released on bail.
The second thing proponents of SB10 don’t want you to know is that judges already have the power to change a person’s bail amount if the suspect is unable to afford bail. Additionally, the judge can have the defendant released on their own recognizance or on pretrial release if they feel that the person will be otherwise unable to afford bail. The truth is that judges often use their powers to have people released who aren’t seen as a serious threat, or to significantly lower the bail amounts of those who don’t have the means to pay their current bail amount.
If SB10 is passed, it’s going to change things significantly for the state, and it’s going to cost you more. For example:
- Cost counties collectively $3.8 billion per year (Washington D.C. system costs $65 million with a population of only 670,000 people).
- Counties will be forced to apply to the Commission on State Mandates for Cost Reimbursement. This process alone will take years to sort out and will put immense pressure on every county to first implement and outlay resources with a speculative chance at savings, only then to determine the net costs.
- Require every county to develop and staff a pretrial services department. The defendant cannot be charged any costs for services or ordered to reimburse the county, regardless of a defendant’s ability to pay.
- Will crowd out funding for other county programs and agencies like the district attorney’s office, the public defender’s office, the sheriff’s office and mental health services.
- More than triple the time that each person spends in jail pretrial because it completely eliminates a person’s right to post bail. Instead, every arrestee will languish in jail until that person’s case is reviewed by a judge.
- Significantly increase the number of fugitives within the state and warrants for their arrest. (Presently there are approx. 1.7 million warrants in the system, at a cost of $1775 per FTA (Research Report, Dallas County Texas 2014 Study)calculates to over $3 billion.)
- Persons accused of committing a violent crime, including some misdemeanors, will not be reviewed for release.
- Cause the incarceration of more pretrial defendants because it eliminates the bail schedule,
- Cause the court to release high-risk defendants without bail – bail provides defendants a financial incentive to appear in court, along with friends and family that cosign on the bail bond.
- Take away the rights of the 300,000+(Ca Bail Ins. Companies -PPIC May 2017 Pretrial Report) defendants who choose to bail out in CA each year (at no cost to the taxpayers)
Essentially, eliminating bail under SB10 will cause people to sit in jail even longer until a judge can personally review their case, take vital funds from an already budget-stretched police department, and it will put violent offenders back on the street. Call your State Senator today to tell them you want them to vote NO on SB10. The police don’t like it, the California Association of Judges doesn’t like it, and neither will you when violent criminals are released onto the streets.