In a Divided Climate, Unlikely Sides Unite Against SB10

Division in the United States is common.  We live and breathe the fact that our country is so divided we can hardly find the common ground that once united us.  Today, perhaps more than most days, we need to find some uniting force and we may have found it in an unlikely source.  The fight against SB10, California’s Bail Reform Law, was once tackled by those expected to be against bail reform: the bail bond industry and was often decided on party lines.  As SB10 came closer to becoming law in California, some unlikely advocates joined the opposition.  Reform advocates such as the ACLU and Human Rights Watch now join the fight to stop the implementation of the bill with a referendum that would put SB10 to the voters in 2020.

The Referendum

Signatures are being gathered across the state to put a hold on the implementation.  A referendum would put the law on the ballot in 2020 to let voters decide.  Critics of SB10 fear that this is not the answer to criminal justice reform.  Many wonder if the bill, as written, will end up incarcerating more people pretrial than under the current system.  The new law would leave defendants jailed pretrial without the possibility of release.  One of the biggest concerns is that those who are currently discriminated against most egregiously, communities of poor and communities of color, would continue to suffer discrimination, perhaps worse than before.  The broad language of SB10 makes people wonder whether too much authority has been given to local judges and if preventive detention will become the norm.

What’s Next for SB10

Unfortunately, the criminal justice system in America has deep divides that cannot be fixed with a simple replacement.  Biases that exist in law enforcement, the courts, America as a country, have existed for hundreds of years aren’t going to disappear overnight.  The main hope of those opposing SB10 is finding justice for all, a balance that protects everyone’s rights and doesn’t do more harm than good.  The only way to provide this kind of solution is to give everyone a seat at the table with open, transparent discussions instead of closed-door negotiations and rewrites that end in a bill nobody is happy about.


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