California Becomes First State to Abolish Cash Bail

indexBy Free Radical

On Tuesday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Money Bail Reform Act which ended the state’s cash bail system.

The new plan, which is set to go into effect in October 2019 will now use an algorithm that weighs if someone should be jailed based on how likely the defendant is to show up for court, the seriousness of the crime, and the chances for recidivism.

“Our path to a more just criminal justice system is not complete, but today it made a transformational shift away from valuing private wealth and toward protecting public safety,” said California Senator Robert Herzberg, a co-author of the bill.

Yet the new legislation has also attracted a slew of opponents. The bail bond industry, which is likely to be devastated is likely to sue for a reversal.

The American Civil Liberties Union of California, which initially backed the bill, eventually withdrew its support as it disputed the level of discretion given to judges whether to jail defendants or not.

“We are concerned that the system that’s being put into place by this bill is too heavily weighted toward detention and does not have sufficient safeguards to ensure that racial justice is provided in the new system,” said Natasha Minsker of the ACLU.

Nonetheless, California’s new system will likely be studied by other legislatures considering alternatives to cash bail.

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