January 30, 2018
I have not been threatened with jail, nor have any of my family members. Nonetheless I am deeply passionate about reforming our bail system in California because it makes our communities safer, healthier, and stronger. And because my faith demands it.
Our current cash bail system unjustly imprisons tens of thousands of people before they are convicted of any crime simply because they cannot afford to pay to get out of jail. Money bail essentially punishes people for being poor, and then ensures they stay that way. It coerces people to plead guilty to crimes they have not committed just so they can leave jail sooner, and causes severe economic and social harm to needlessly jailed people and their families and communities.
Legislation introduced by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, the Money Bail Reform Act (SB10), would replace the current cash bail system with a risk assessment system to determine how likely it is that people would fail to appear in court, or would commit other crimes if they were released before trial.
The court would still make the final decision in each case, and judges could still set bail or order people accused of serious or violent felonies to remain in custody until trial. But unlike the current system, the proposed reforms would ensure people accused of non-serious/non-violent crimes will be released from pretrial custody with appropriate conditions of release if needed. People accused of violent or serious felonies would not be released without a hearing, regardless of their wealth or access to money. This will help ensure California isn’t locking people up simply because they are unable to buy their freedom, while still prioritizing public safety and victim’s rights.