Tony Rackauckas offers blistering report against bail reform

Orange County District Attorney, Tony Rackauckas didn’t mince words in his recent op-ed for the Orange County Register.  Radical bail changes bad for California sites two major cases that have garnered national attention, the tragic murder of college student Blaze Bernstein and the Louise and David Turpin “house of horrors” where the couple stands accused of torturing their 13 children.  Defendants in both cases had bail set at multi-million dollar amounts, $5 million and $12 million respectively.  According to Mr. Rackauckas and others the proposed changes to the bail system would limit a judge’s ability to set bail according to the egregiousness of the offense instead limiting the amount to only what the defendant could pay.

California Senate Bill 10 which is currently in the legislature proposes radical changes to the current cash bail system.  Similar bail reform has had significant consequences after implementation in states like New Mexico and New Jersey.  The bill which failed to succeed in prior years has nearly unknown costs and consequences.  Senate Bill 10 would allow defendants to have conditions of their release determined by a pretrial risk assessment officer.  A judge would be relegated to determining whether the conditions are a reasonable assurance that the defendant would make future court appearances.  Bail would only be set in extraordinary circumstances.  Many would be released automatically without having to post bail.  Those charged with the most serious of offenses would be eligible for release or to have bail set at the “least restrictive level necessary.”  The bill fails to take victims into consideration and releases dangerous criminals back on the street.


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