Over the past few years, California lawmakers have tried to move past their tough-on-crime history. Voters and lawmakers have spent decades supporting strict criminal penalties and lengthy prison sentences. More recently, however, there has been a push to shrink the number of people incarcerated, ease punishments for those convicted of property and drug crimes, and expand parole.
On the November 2020 ballot was California Proposition 25, which, if passed, would uphold 2018 Senate Bill 10, changing the cash bail system to a risk management system. However, the measure was rejected. Regardless, state prosecutors will aggressively pursue charges against you, because their goal is to gain a conviction. If you’re accused of a crime in California, you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney on your side.
Cash Bail vs. Senate Bill 10 and Proposition 25
California uses a cash bail system to release criminal suspects awaiting trial to ensure they return for their court dates. Cash bail is a set of pre-trial restrictions imposed on someone to ensure that they appear in court.
In 2018, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 10, which would have used a risk assessment system to determine release before trial instead of the cash bail system. These tools would use an algorithm to guess a person’s odds of committing another crime or skipping court. At the time of the election, the law was still not in effect, as it was pending the referendum vote in the general election.
SB 10 would generally require law enforcement to release people arrested for misdemeanors within 12 hours. Some exceptions include people charged with domestic violence or those with a history of violating pretrial release conditions. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released a report saying it would be difficult to determine how effective this policy would be. In the report, PPIC officials estimate that nearly 40% of people arrested would be subjected to a risk assessment.
A “yes” vote would have upheld the legislation to replace the cash bail system with a risk management assessment. A “no” vote would repeal the senate bill and continue the cash bail system.
Support for Proposition 25
The California Democratic Party, the League of Women Voters of California, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom all endorsed Proposition 25. Supporters say that there will not be real criminal justice reform until the bail bond industry is out. Also, supporters of the proposition say that cash bail systems are “pay to play” and discriminate against those who cannot afford large bails.
Supporters say lawmakers designed the bill to remove the financial barrier between a defendant and their pretrial release. The bill would also attempt to eliminate socio-economic and racial disparities when judges set cash bails. Overall, Proposition 25 in connection with SB 10 would create a fairer, safer, and less costly process of releasing accused criminals before trial.
Opposition for Proposition 25
Two vastly different groups oppose Proposition 25. As the proposition explicitly targets the bail industry’s removal, those in the industry are unsurprisingly opposed to it.
Surprisingly, though, Human Rights Watch and Equal Justice Now also oppose the proposition. They argue the ballot measure would result in unjust incarcerations. They also say a risk algorithm would most likely target people of color. Since the tools used consider a person’s criminal record, they fear racial injustice. People of color, especially in California, are more likely to have criminal histories due to over-policing in Black neighborhoods. In addition, people are more likely to be arrested based on their skin color.
Opponents of the proposition argue that it would take away a person’s right to post bail and replace it with a discriminatory computer-generated profiling system administered by the government.
California Votes to Keep Cash Bail
In the November 2020 election, California voters rejected the ballot measure, allowing defendants to pay money to get out of jail before their trial. About 55% of voters rejected the proposition.
Those who oppose the proposition hope that lawmakers go back to the drawing board and develop better ways to reform the criminal justice system. But voters’ rejection of the proposal makes legislative changes more challenging. Lawmakers can’t come back with a similar bill because more than half of Californians voted against it.
There is a broad consensus across the board that the bail system needs to be fixed, but it’s unclear how that will happen. Many advocates for eliminating cash bail say that a risk assessment tool is not the answer. California has more work ahead to design and implement a fair and unbiased pretrial system that ensures individual liberty while reducing racial inequality.
Hire a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney in California
California prosecutors will not back down in court, so it’s vital to immediately obtain skilled legal representation. Attorney Dod of Dod Law can provide that. With more than 17 years of experience, he has handled more than 6,500 cases, including 75 jury trials. You can trust Attorney Dod to provide quality representation for your case and do everything possible to have your charge dismissed or reduced.
Call (619) 814-5110 or complete an online contact form to speak with Dod today.