California became the first state to remove bail for suspects in custody that are waiting for trial. The law (SB10) will take effect in October 2019.
Some aspects of the bill are still unclear. Each of the 58 County’s Superior Courts in the state will come up with their own guidelines. That sets up the likelihood that there will be different guidelines in each court. Suspects charged with non violent felonies will be eligible to be released within 12 hours. Suspects accused of violent felonies could stay in jail until arraignment. This also includes suspects accused of some sex crimes. The decision on which suspects will be released will be determined on their risk and the guidelines in each Superior Court.
Critics of the bill included law enforcement, the ACLU and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice. The ACLU had previously backed the bill until changes were made the past few weeks, that they said gave too much power to judges. Defense attorneys opposed the bill on the premise that it violates the presumption of innocence. Law enforcement officials are concerned that this will put more criminals back on the streets after an arrest.
Bail bonds companies stand to be the biggest losers with the passage of SB 10. The bill would eliminate bail and effectively end their business. Today they launched a referendum to allow voters to make the final decision. The group has 90 days to gather 360,000 signatures and force a vote in 2020. If they gather enough signatures, it would put the law on hold until after the vote.