Almost forty years ago, a governor of California in his State of the State address "urged the Legislature to take on bail reform ... calling it a 'tax on poor people.'" That was Jerry Brown, who yesterday, near the end of his fourth non-consecutive term in office, finally had the opportunity to sign a bill abolishing cash bail in the state.
Anti-bail advocates such as the ACLU pulled their support saying judges are given too much power to determine risk assessment during "preventative detention" and keeps people in jail longer. Judy Woodruff interviews Marisa Lagos of public television station KQED, which has covered the story.
Alarmed by a string of mass shootings by young people, California lawmakers on Wednesday sent the governor a bill that would raise the minimum age for buying long guns in the state from 18 to 21. Those not eligible for pretrial release will be offenders facing serious violent felonies.
If the California Money Bail Reform Act is used properly, it can help those in poverty and will revolutionize the justice system.
Other Blue states, including New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey, are said to be considering similar initiatives. The Essie Justice Group is comprised of women with incarcerated partners or family members. Some worry unsafe people will go free and won't return for trial.
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"It can not guarantee a substantial reduction in the number of Californians detained while awaiting trial, nor does it sufficiently address racial bias in pretrial decision making", leaders of three American Civil Liberties Union chapters in California said in a joint statement.
The judge said her decision was tied to recent reforms that set a high bar for holding suspects without bail.
Brown's signature allows the state's Judicial Council board, which creates rules and procedures across the state, the authority to reshape pretrial detention policies.
The model that is driving the momentum for bail reform is the federal system, where defendants are often required to meet specific conditions for pretrial release (e.g., drug treatment, surrender of passports, electronic monitoring) or to sign contracts imposing stiff fees for non-appearance. That time can be extended by 12 hours if necessary. If enacted, it would put California on track to become the first state to adopt a power grid consisting of 100 percent renewable energy.