California bans money for bail

 
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29 August 2018 14:28
 

My assembly member was part of a successful effort to ban money for bail:  https://a18.asmdc.org/press-releases/20180828-governor-signs-bill-eliminating-money-bail-california

California’s current bail system punishes low-income individuals by presenting a terrible choice: stay locked up for months (before ever being convicted) and risk losing your job and your livelihood; go into debt to pay a bail agent a nonrefundable deposit to post your bail; or plead guilty to be able to go home. Meanwhile, the wealthy can buy their freedom.

Let’s see how this works.  So far I think it is a good idea, and if it turns out to be a bad one then we can change it again.

Of course, the people who profit off the money-for-bail system were up in arms because there goes their livelihood, but I’ll take the freedom of many over the profit of some.  Being charged with a crime should not cost the defendant until conviction.  There is also the cost to the state and business of incarceration until a verdict.

 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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29 August 2018 16:14
 
Skipshot - 29 August 2018 02:28 PM

My assembly member was part of a successful effort to ban money for bail:  https://a18.asmdc.org/press-releases/20180828-governor-signs-bill-eliminating-money-bail-california

California’s current bail system punishes low-income individuals by presenting a terrible choice: stay locked up for months (before ever being convicted) and risk losing your job and your livelihood; go into debt to pay a bail agent a nonrefundable deposit to post your bail; or plead guilty to be able to go home. Meanwhile, the wealthy can buy their freedom.

Let’s see how this works.  So far I think it is a good idea, and if it turns out to be a bad one then we can change it again.

Of course, the people who profit off the money-for-bail system were up in arms because there goes their livelihood, but I’ll take the freedom of many over the profit of some.  Being charged with a crime should not cost the defendant until conviction.  There is also the cost to the state and business of incarceration until a verdict.

I agree that this is a good idea – more just.

As the article notes, “... defendants will be held only if they pose a significant risk to public safety or risk missing their court date”, which can be applied fairly regardless of a defendant’s income.  Also as the article points out, electronic devices can be used if there is a risk of missing court dates.

 

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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29 August 2018 18:33
 

Seems like it might save the State lots of money spent on unnecessary incarcerations.  However, I guess time will tell if a significant number of people fail to show up for trial.  No-shows trigger a bench warrant and sometimes a bounty hunter, which also incur costs.  Sometimes people who are released on their own recognizance commit additional crimes.  It’s complicated, and there are obviously trade-offs.  Here’s one discussion of the situation:

https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/prfdsc.pdf

One study in Nebraska found a FTA (failure to appear) rate for defendants in the teens percentage-wise, back in 2011:

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/234370.pdf

This article is interesting because it analyzes different approaches for decreasing FTA, including reminders and sanctions.

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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29 August 2018 23:14
 

It’s huge and it needs to implemented nationwide along with other reforms that would actually bring criminal justice in line with something resembling constitutional values.

 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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30 August 2018 07:24
 

Another perspective from Politico: California Ended Cash Bail. Why Are So Many Reformers Unhappy About It?

What promised to be a progressive breakthrough is now breaking up the left.

. . .

The law has exposed deep fissures within the criminal justice reform movement. Social justice advocates that had once championed the initiative to abolish cash bail mobilized against the final iteration of the bill, which they saw as having morphed from righteous to dangerous.

. . .

What’s the problem? The new law, which will take effect in October 2019, will replace the old system of money-based freedom with a new one of risk assessments and preventive detention. In critics’ eyes, that means California will continue to give local judges the sweeping authority to keep people incarcerated before they’re convicted of anything.

And, since judges are mainly interested in perpetuating “white privilege,” they’ll inevitably discriminate against non-whites when assessing risk.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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30 August 2018 08:46
 

ASD quoted:
And, since judges are mainly interested in perpetuating “white privilege,” they’ll inevitably discriminate against non-whites when assessing risk.

That’s a pretty sweeping criticism of judges.  Particularly California judges.

If true, then which is more just—requiring bail to be posted or conducting risk assessments?  Either one involves a judge’s discretion.  Both have much in common with a judge’s job description involving sentencing.  Discretion is a key part of our justice system. 

From the article cited by ASD:

Supporters pushed back on those alarms. Jessica Bartholow, a lobbyist for the Western Center on Law and Poverty who was immersed in negotiations, says the final bill achieved the goal of erasing “the distinction between someone who has wealth and someone who doesn’t in the criminal justice system.” She echoed supporters in noting that judges already have broad powers to detain people using bail. At least now the system won’t be based solely on money, they say.

 
Celal
 
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30 August 2018 09:54
 

Just another hairbrained idea from the left. Just how do you ensure someone charged with an offense turns up in court to face prosecutors when there’s no ‘lien’ on them.  Insanity knows no bounds. If being foolish makes the politicians feel good, they must be on constant high.

 
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30 August 2018 10:02
 
hannahtoo - 29 August 2018 06:33 PM

Seems like it might save the State lots of money spent on unnecessary incarcerations. ...  No-shows trigger a bench warrant and sometimes a bounty hunter, which also incur costs.  .

This is a good point. Why not simply do away with the laws and let everyone do whatever they they want. Monies spent on law enforcement could be better used elsewhere. For example, politicians sure could use a raise after all the hard work they put in to turn the once beautiful cities into shit holes.  It is not as easy as it looks. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work.

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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30 August 2018 12:12
 

I infer that CA is trying to figure out who really needs to be incarcerated versus who is merely winding up in jail due to inability to make bail.  The assumption is that a significant number of people would be OK out on their own recognizance and be able to maintain their jobs.  So CA is willing to be the beta test for this idea.  They can always re-establish bail if it doesn’t work out. 

I read a few places that there are about 500,000 people in prison awaiting trial in the US. 

As far as I can tell from the stats I found for CA, 80% of felony cases go to trial, and about 68% result in conviction.  A little more than 15% of complaints are denied, and 12% of cases are dismissed.  More than 66% of CA inmates are awaiting arraignment, trial, or sentencing.  Again the question is whether all those people need to be in prison waiting.  The assumption is that a judge could make that determination.  Not all people arrested will be released without bail—only misdemeanors and those felons determined to be a good risk.

I think we are weighing cost/benefit to society versus individuals caught up in the criminal justice system.

[ Edited: 30 August 2018 12:17 by hannahtoo]
 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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30 August 2018 12:34
 
Skipshot - 29 August 2018 02:28 PM

My assembly member was part of a successful effort to ban money for bail:  https://a18.asmdc.org/press-releases/20180828-governor-signs-bill-eliminating-money-bail-california

California’s current bail system punishes low-income individuals by presenting a terrible choice: stay locked up for months (before ever being convicted) and risk losing your job and your livelihood; go into debt to pay a bail agent a nonrefundable deposit to post your bail; or plead guilty to be able to go home. Meanwhile, the wealthy can buy their freedom.

Let’s see how this works.  So far I think it is a good idea, and if it turns out to be a bad one then we can change it again.

Of course, the people who profit off the money-for-bail system were up in arms because there goes their livelihood, but I’ll take the freedom of many over the profit of some.  Being charged with a crime should not cost the defendant until conviction.  There is also the cost to the state and business of incarceration until a verdict.

This sounds like a solid, socially progressive reform, yet I can’t help but wonder if cash-bail might be retained in a useful way. Instead of completely eliminating cash requirements for bailors, couldn’t it just be lowered? Even as low as $100? Monetary values interweave themselves into the lives of everyone who lives in a community, often in ways that go completely unnoticed. This reform is an experiment that I hope doesn’t blow up in some unfortunate way.

 
 
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30 August 2018 13:10
 
nonverbal - 30 August 2018 12:34 PM

This reform is an experiment that I hope doesn’t blow up in some unfortunate way.

Oh, it will because nothing is perfect.  However, is the price of perfection worth the cost, financially and socially?  According to the article, the law does provide non-monetary provisions to ensure the accused shows up to court, such as GPS tracking devices. The law was given thought over two years before being passed, which is not a guarantee it will work as intended, but if 100% is the reason for opposing the new law then nothing will be passed and nothing will be done.  Absolutes is what the opposition demands.  Let’s try it out for a while and see what happens and make adjustments as needed before dismissing the idea.

 
GAD
 
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30 August 2018 16:11
 

My issue is the people selling at stopping rich people from getting away with crime, that is bullshit.