Is SB 10 Helpful or Harmful?

The Truth Behind the Bail Reform Act

Recently, California legislators revived a failed bail reform bill in the hopes of eliminating the state’s current bail system.  The modifications have drawn growing concerns from human rights organizations, attorneys and justices across the board.  Many believe that the Act, the way it stands, would do more harm than good even exacerbating the current injustices in pretrial detention.

Without a doubt, everyone believes that there are issues with the criminal justice system.  There are racial disparities with a disproportionate number of minorities being incarcerated pretrial.  There are disparities against the poor and impoverished.  These inequities, however, cannot disappear overnight with sweeping reform that does little to address the underlying issues that plague our criminal justice system.  SB10 does not address these issues.  It was rewritten in secret without bringing all sides to the table.   For true reform there needs to be a community discussion with representatives from human rights organizations, civil rights groups, bail bondsmen, victim rights groups, judicial officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and others.

Opponents fear that SB10 may have the opposite affect than intended, in fact leading to an increase in pretrial detention due to a change in the intent of the bill.  As rewritten the bill allows for “preventive detention of pretrial defendants” for many reasons without the possibility for release.  The bill does nothing to address the issues of racial inequality or to disparity against the poor but instead allows for more defendants to be held pretrial without the possibility of release.

The bill also relies on risk assessment tools to determine pretrial release eligibility.  Join us next week as we discuss these programs and whether they will help or hurt the current injustices against race and class in our criminal justice system.


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