A Closer Look at Bail Reform: California’s SB10

Late last year California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed SB10 into law.  Known as the California Money Bail Reform Act, last minute changes to the legislation raised the eyebrows of both bail reform opponents like the bail industry and human rights leaders.  The bill would eliminate the cash bail system in favor a pretrial risk assessment tool that would use data to determine whether a defendant would be eligible for release.

Opponents of the bill question whether the legislation puts the public at risk.  Many question if allowing criminals to be released without consequence will increase crime and increase the number of fugitives on the street.  Others argue that the legislation could put too much discretion at the hands of judges and end up leading to more people being incarcerated without the eligibility for release.

One fact we do know – opponents to SB10 have gathered over 500,000 signatures in hopes of a veto referendum.  If verified, the bill would be halted from taking effect in October 2019.  Instead, voters would vote on the bill in 2020.

We also know that if passed, SB10 will have a significant impact on taxpayers.  Many wonder whether fiscal considerations were truly taken into account prior to passing the law.  There are several question marks as to how the new pretrial services programs will be paid for including additional staffing requirements, training and resources.

In the next few months, we should get confirmation whether at least 365,000 of the gathered signatures are certified.  If successful, a veto referendum will be triggered, and the voters of California will be able to have a voice about this overhaul attempt.


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