The Problem with Ending Cash Bail in California

California Assembly Bill AB 42 recently failed to be approved by assembly members. Those that do not support the bill site the importance of the bail industry in ensuring defendants’ appearance in court and with a 97 percent success rate. The bill provided no incentive for defendants to appear in court and mandated the release of numerous defendants without the condition of bail. The burden on the taxpayers to track down fugitives that fail to appear in court is overwhelming. Law enforcement budgets do not allow for extra manpower to track down these defendants. This means that if a defendant is released on their own recognizance and fails to appear in court they may never be brought to justice. Law enforcement simply does not have the resources to pursue thousands of fugitives, even those with felony warrants. This is a danger to our communities, to the victims of heinous crimes and to law enforcement.

The Alliance of California Judges expressed their “strong opposition” to the proposed bills, joining many other law enforcement agencies and victim’s rights groups in opposing the legislation. The danger to public safety should be of great concern to lawmakers. The bail industry plays a crucial role in bringing defendants to justice if they fail to appear at court. They do so without any impact on taxpayers or law enforcement budgets. The defeat of California AB 42 is the first step in a long road. Reform of California’s criminal justice center is undoubtedly necessary but eliminating bail does not solve the problem.

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