CA Gov Signs Bill Eliminating Cash Bonds

CA Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill today eliminating cash bail for arrestees.

Instead of having to post a cash bond, the court will conduct a "risk assessment" to determine whether they should be released on electronic monitoring or detained pending trial.

The bill is supposed to eliminate disparate treatment of the economically challenged who can't afford bail. But the ACLU forsees other problems developing due to handing the decision off to judges. [More...]

But some longtime opponents of cash bail said the new law would simply replace one system of pretrial detention with another, based on decisions by individual judges who will consider a set of prescribed “risk assessments” and then decide, with little possibility of appeal, whether a defendant is safe enough to release or must remain behind bars.

SB10 “cannot guarantee a substantial reduction in the number of Californians detained while awaiting trial, nor does it sufficiently address racial bias in pretrial decision-making,” said leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union in California, who had supported a version of the bill that gave judges less control over pretrial release.

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said SB10 “handed the keys to the judges,” and he fears that the new law “will result in more people being locked up.” He also contended Cantil-Sakauye has a conflict of interest because the state Supreme Court is considering a constitutional challenge to the current cash-bail system.

It sounds to me like many who are currently eligible for pretrial release through posting bond will now be denied bond.

People held on capital charges would still not qualify for pretrial release. Nor would defendants with recent serious or violent felony convictions, those charged with domestic violence, or those who had been granted bail in the past and repeatedly failed to appear in court.

Others could be freed while awaiting trial, with monitoring, but their prospects for release would depend on the charges, their record, and the judge’s assessment of the risk they would pose.

More opposition:

“It gives tremendous discretion to judges to decide who to detain, and experience shows that this discretion is likely to be used in a way that over-predicts dangerousness and in a racially discriminatory manner,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean at the UC Berkeley School of Law. “Eliminating money bail is essential, but this is the wrong way to do it.”

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  • Display: Sort:
    It's a bad bill. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by fishcamp on Wed Aug 29, 2018 at 08:11:20 PM EST
    They're trying to trap people with cash to declare where it came from.  If it's my money I should be able to use it.  More big brother.  

    Including proceeds of crime? (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Wed Aug 29, 2018 at 09:31:40 PM EST
    of course not oculus (none / 0) (#6)
    by fishcamp on Thu Aug 30, 2018 at 07:45:06 AM EST
    To further clear up the cash problem (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by fishcamp on Fri Aug 31, 2018 at 01:54:52 PM EST
    I'm speaking about, here's an example.  During the time I worked for ABC Sports and had my own film company in Aspen, I also had a trucking company.  My drivers and I hauled produce, restaurant supplies, and lots of material up from Denver to Aspen.  Those restaurants mostly paid by check but some paid me with cash.  Then I had three old beater ten wheel dump trucks that I left at construction sites until they filled up with trash and I took them to the dump.  Those people always paid me with cash.  I meticulously kept track of that money, declared it, paid taxes on it, but still had cash on hand, often lots of cash.  My point is  I should be able to use that cash any way I want.

    You're probably lucky... (none / 0) (#29)
    by unitron on Sat Sep 08, 2018 at 02:19:57 AM EST
    ...that none of that cash ever got arrested for being a lot of cash, 'cause that's always guilty until proven innocent.

    Agreed unitron, (none / 0) (#30)
    by fishcamp on Thu Sep 13, 2018 at 09:45:00 AM EST
    So I didn't travel with it except to the bank three miles away.  I paid my drivers with cash and used it for other expenses.  It was never big money like drug money, and it was a long time ago.  Had I ever needed it for a bond I would have deposited it into my account and written a check.  It still would have come from cash, but I could prove where it came from.

    Not confusing at all, just an ironic riposte (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by Peter G on Sat Sep 01, 2018 at 03:37:05 PM EST
    that picks up directly on your double-negatively phrased intro, "Assuming I did not misunderstand your post or your position on the issue ...." My comment then goes on to state my position. If you don't like how I write, you are welcome to criticize my writing, though. Feel free. After all, I have criticized yours. I don't think "it's a lawyer" thing to choose what I wish to write about, and not necessarily to write what you want me to write about. I often choose to address one particular aspect of an issue, and not every aspect or even the main one.  

    Peter's contributions to TL (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by oculus on Mon Sep 03, 2018 at 10:25:41 AM EST
    demonstrate his finely honed writing and thinking skills. [My opinion.]

    Very nice of you to say so, Oc (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Peter G on Mon Sep 03, 2018 at 11:51:34 AM EST
    I appreciate it. I try. And of course, I make my living exercising those skills, and supposedly have a good reputation in the field.

    you have (none / 0) (#31)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Sep 20, 2018 at 07:08:32 PM EST
    an excellent reputation in the field and it's well-deserved. Your contributions to the discussion here are very much appreciated, as you know.

    California judges? (3.00 / 3) (#7)
    by thomas rogan on Thu Aug 30, 2018 at 02:59:13 PM EST
    California on the whole is a highly liberal state.  Maybe you should meet the people who are not being allowed to have bail.  Most likely there is an element of trying to prevent someone from committing further crimes prior to trial on the original charge.  It's public record--list some of the cases including prior rap sheets and prior convictions.  I doubt that too many Sunday School teachers get stuck in jail without bail on this "demerit-based system" for bail.  Hopefully people will even use a Hare Psychopathy Profile on some of these folks.

    To be clear about my disapproval of your comment (5.00 / 5) (#8)
    by Peter G on Thu Aug 30, 2018 at 07:22:54 PM EST
    (1) I would venture to say that Jeralyn (and I, for that matter) have met many, many more of "the people who are not being allowed ... bail" under the criteria of this new law than you have, since representing such people has been our chosen profession, each of us, for between 35 and 40 years. To accuse J of naivete or ignorance about the accused in criminal cases is absurd. (2) Yes, the entire theory of preventive detention as a basis for denial of bail is "trying to prevent someone from committing ... crimes prior to trial ...." Your explicit presumption of guilt ("further crimes") gives you away. (3) The percentage of disagnosable psychopaths among accused criminals (or even among proven criminals) is minuscule. As you know, I suppose, being (you have said) a forensic psychiatrist. (4) The Sunday School teachers among the arrested are mostly in for child molestation or trading of child p*rnography, I would guess, along with various fraud schemes. Like the doctors.

    I always thought bail (none / 0) (#9)
    by Chuck0 on Fri Aug 31, 2018 at 07:18:47 AM EST
    had more to do with ensuring a defendant shows up for court than preventing future crimes. Am I wrong?

    Under this type of "bail reform" law (none / 0) (#10)
    by Peter G on Fri Aug 31, 2018 at 08:44:05 AM EST
    unfortunately, you are partly wrong. The federal law, with which I am more familiar (go to subsection (e)), says that bail can be entirely denied (in other words, the defendant can be "detained" prior to trial) if the judge determines, after a hearing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that "no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community ...." And there is a presumption that the latter circumstance exists if the defendant is merely charged with any of a long list of offenses (subsection (e)(3)).

    I don't trust judges to make this decision (none / 0) (#11)
    by McBain on Fri Aug 31, 2018 at 09:26:34 AM EST
    innocent people will be denied bail.  

    Technically. (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Chuck0 on Fri Aug 31, 2018 at 12:36:00 PM EST
    Everyone arrested (and thus seeking bail) is innocent. You know, that whole, "innocent until proven guilty" thing.

    How's this... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by McBain on Fri Aug 31, 2018 at 03:25:26 PM EST
    the wrongfully accused and the overcharged will be denied bail at some point.  

    It sounds to me like many (none / 0) (#1)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Aug 29, 2018 at 04:03:26 PM EST
    It sounds to me like many who are currently eligible for pretrial release through posting bond will now be denied bond.

    Me too.

    I'm also guessing that judges might be less inclined to approve bail for "borderline" cases, because the judge could then bear the responsibility, at their next election, of someone they granted bail to who then committed some kind of horrible crime while free on bail...

    My opinion (none / 0) (#2)
    by linea on Wed Aug 29, 2018 at 07:58:09 PM EST
    I support the elimination of cash bail. This should be the rule for every State and the Federal government. Hopefully, the procedures in California will undergo refinement over the next several years to ensure they have a neutral impact in regard to race and social class.

    This has basically been the law for federal bail (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Peter G on Wed Aug 29, 2018 at 10:31:24 PM EST
    since 1984. Under this law, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 85% of federal defendants in drug cases were detained without bail in 2010, up from about 75% in 1995. During the same 15-year period, while the number of federal criminal cases approximately doubled (i.e., up 100%), the number of pretrial detainees went up by 184%. In other words, the law "reform" resulted in more pretrial detainees, not less. (It is arguable, however, that most of this was due to a sharp uptick in the amount of criminal immigration enforcement. Arrested aliens are nearly 100% likely to be detained.) If you throw in the use of statistical "risk assessment," which often just cloaks past practices resulting in gross racial disparities in a veneer of social science, you multiply the problematic issues.

    Well... (none / 0) (#15)
    by linea on Fri Aug 31, 2018 at 05:48:44 PM EST
    Assuming I did not misunderstand your post or your position on the issue, I feel it's ridiculous to not support the elimination of cash bail because you feel it may not be perfect or preferable in every instance or in certain instances pertaining to those with Federal Felony charges.

    I strongly support the elimination of cash bail. Tens of thousands of people are languishing in hideously abusive jails in America (e.g., Rikers Island, NYC) on misdemeanor and gross-misdemeanor offences because they are too poor to pay relatively small bail amounts. It's morally wrong. I can't see any logical or moral rational for maintaining a cash bail system. In my opinion, any deficiencies in transitioning to a no-cash-bail standard for every US State can be addressed by refinement of the matrix for magistrate assessment.


    You are wrong to assume you do not (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by Peter G on Fri Aug 31, 2018 at 10:17:11 PM EST
    misunderstand my comment. Because you most certainly do. I took care to point out, developing J's post further, why the California statute provides an inadequate or even an illusory reform of the cash bail system. How can you interpret that as a defense of cash bail? I said nothing to suggest that I support the cash bail system. It's not a simplistic either-or; that is, you either support this fake "reform" or you support the status quo. Not so. (And by the way, I don't write based on what I "feel," as you insist on doing. I've suggested over and over that you undermine your points by asserting that they are based on "feelings." I admit that if you insist on that for yourself, I can't stop you. But never will I agree that my analysis of an issue is based on what I "feel," as you asserted.) If you "feel" you need me to say so expressly, I will: I also support abolition of the cash bail system. But not as an excuse to introduce preventive detention based on fake-science, racist predictions of dangerousness.

    Rats!! (none / 0) (#16)
    by linea on Fri Aug 31, 2018 at 06:48:33 PM EST
    I used standardized international English in a post. Won't happen again.

    I prefer (none / 0) (#17)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Aug 31, 2018 at 10:03:14 PM EST
    Furthermore linea, (none / 0) (#23)
    by fishcamp on Mon Sep 03, 2018 at 05:53:12 AM EST
    the words in-and- of itself mean absolutely nothing.  They are used to make a comment seem more important than it is.  Look it up.

    I don't agree that an emphatic qualifier (none / 0) (#25)
    by Peter G on Mon Sep 03, 2018 at 11:44:24 AM EST
    like "in and of itself" means "absolutely nothing." I thought Linea's use of it there was totally appropriate. My point (as an inveterate editor) about the "double negative" was more that her initial use of "If I don't misunderstand" was not a better choice, in context, than "If I understand correctly ...." And even better than that would have been, "I understand why you oppose this California legislation, but I'm not sure I understand your position on cash bail itself. Are you for it or against it, all things considered?"

    Thank you for the explanation Peter. (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by fishcamp on Mon Sep 03, 2018 at 03:14:23 PM EST
    I remember in college, while writing a paper on main currents in American culture, the professor lectured me way too long, in class, about how using in and of itself was a shallow meaningless method of stretching a paper to make it sound important.  I much prefer your explanation.

    But I did need extra words (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 03, 2018 at 08:20:03 PM EST
    Fishcamp to get over the minimum words redline hahaha.

    I know I've used that phrase trying to do that.