California Becomes First State to End Bail

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law that, beginning in October 2019, will eliminate bail for suspects awaiting trial. Each county will be responsible for creating their own procedures to determine who will and will not be released ahead of trial.

Supporters of the new law cite the disparity of justice between those who can afford bail and those who cannot; that the system of bail disproportionally punishes the poor. Opponents argue that the elimination of bail risks disincentivizing potentially dangerous defendants from appearing at trial.

From The Associated Press:

“Based on the council’s framework, each county’s superior court will set its own procedures for deciding who to release before trial, potentially creating a patchwork system based on where a suspect lives.

Most suspects accused of nonviolent felonies will be released within 12 hours of booking, while those charged with serious, violent felonies will stay in jail before trial.

The new law gives judges wide latitude to decide what to do with other suspects based on their likelihood of returning to court and the danger they pose to the public.

It’s still unclear which suspects would fall into each category or how long they might spend in jail.”

Read the official text of Senate Bill 10 at APNews here.

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