California Becomes First State to Ditch Cash Bail: Oregon Should Follow Suit

California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Tuesday eliminating bail before trial.

SB 10 authors Hertzberg and Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, negotiated for nearly a year with the reform groups and lobbyists for the bail industry, alongside Cantil-Sakauye and judges on her Pretrial Detention Reform Work Group.

"Today, California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly", Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement. Opponents of the 100% renewable bill warned that electricity prices would go up if the state relied too heavily upon intermittent solar and wind before energy storage improves.

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.

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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. "High-risk" individuals would remain in custody until their arraignment, as would anyone who has committed certain sex crimes or violent felonies, is arrested for driving under the influence for the third time in less than 10 years, is already under supervision by the courts or has violated any conditions of pretrial release in the previous five years. The clout of the Californian economy could help spur some other states, such as MA and New Jersey, to do the same. The Essie Justice Group is comprised of women with incarcerated partners or family members.

"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. Some worry risky people will go free and won't return for trial. California will eliminate cash bail.

The bill gives officials 24 hours to determine whether other suspects should be released before trial. But if crime rates escalate, for whatever reason, no one should underestimate the political temptation that will gain renewed strength to maximize incarceration again, no matter how unequal, unjust, or remote from the actual causes and consequences of lawbreaking. It creates rules and procedures to ensure consistency across the state.

Some criminal justice reform advocates worry defendants will spend weeks in jail while their lawyers try to prove they deserve to be set free.

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