The Real Cost of California’s Bail Reform Bill

SB10-Bail and its counterpart AB42 is currently being decided by the California Legislature.  The bill proposes to reform California’s “unjust” bail system by virtually eliminating the cash bail system in favor of pretrial release.  The proponents of this bill argue that it will protect the poor.  They fail to mention the part of the bill that charges defendants a percentage of the bond amount as a bail deposit that is paid to the court according to the California Bail Agents Association.

According to the bill, defendants will now undergo risk assessment through the pretrial services department.  The government agency in charge of conducting the risk assessment will then forward the information to a judge will will decide on the requirements for release.  These conditions could include GPS tracking, AA meetings or a combination of court requirements.  It could take up to 48 hours for there to be a decision regarding your release.  Commercial bail agents absorb the costs of monitoring from the taxpayers.  The burden, currently, is on the commercial bond agent to track those that fail to appear at court.  The new system would pass that financial burden to the taxpayers at an unknown cost.  Undoubtedly, under the proposed bail reform failures to appear will go up since fugitives will have to be monitored by an already overburdened criminal justice system.

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