Judges concerned with proposal to end California Bail

A measure to end California bail passed the state Senate but failed on the Assembly floor.  This measure raised concerns to some California judges that believe ending bail could cause serious harm to the public.  Proponents argue that California’s bail system discriminates against the poor and that an alternative should be used through a court monitored service such as pretrial services.  Pretrial services would complete a risk assessment and release defendants while they wait for trial.  Commercial bail bond agents, law enforcement, prosecutors and judges have concerns that this would largely increase the number of fugitives leaving dangerous criminals on the street.

The Judicial Council of California is addressing concerns through a six-page letter submitted to the Assembly Public Safety Committee who will hear arguments at SB 10s final policy hearing.  The Council is currently conducting its own review of bail.  The letter sites concerns about the impact on judicial discretion and independence; the creation of unrealistic or unspecified timelines; time imposition of unrealistic responsibilities and expectations on the pretrial services agencies that courts would rely on for information in making decisions; and the creation of an overly burdensome and complicated system.  The letter goes on to explain the reasons behind the concerns and why public safety should be at the forefront of any decisions.

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