The American constitution granted the right of bail excepts for the defendants charged with serious charges. It is worth mentioning that the Policy Institute of California in 2015 showed about 50,000 incarceration rate in California is awaiting sentencing or trial. However, bail is a protective way for the accused to prove his innocence. In California, many legislations were promulgated to reforms bails. This article deals with the SB 262 bill which amalgamated the bail reforms in California.
History of California Bail reforms
Bail reform in the United States commenced in the 1960s with the Manhattan Bail Project. It was based on the non-financial pretrial release. Recently most of the states are trying to implement some non-financial release and abolished commercial surety bail. (Smith, 2017). Moreover, California’s legislation encourages the range of non-financial release ways without explicitly abolished commercial surety bails. It is crucial to mention here that in California, 46 of 58 counties possess a pretrial service agency and every county uses some form of non-financial release in conjunction with bail. Furthermore, Assemblymember Bonta’s bill is to expand pretrial services. (Amatya, 2017). In 2018, Appellant Court in California held that the state’s bail system was unconstitutional. In 2017, The California Money Bail Reform Act was enacted by the legislature, where it is stalled. In 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill for the elimination of cash bail. (Buskey,2019). Subsequently, bail reforms were made as per the depending rate of incarceration rate.
SB 262 Bail reforms in California
Senate Bill No.262 was introduced by Senate majority leader’s Bob Hertzberg and Nancy Skinner on January 27, 2021. It was supported by a large number of organizations such as Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Western Center on Law and Poverty and California for safety and Justice, Western Center on Law and Poverty. (Peterson, 2019). The new promulgation would set bail at $0 for low-level felonies and misdemeanours in California. The bills would require that money paid for bail or bond is refunded once the charges are dropped, a case has been dismissed or if the accused fulfilled all the requirements of the court appearances. The legislation also incorporated that an accused is not kept behind bars pending trial only because of their inability to afford bail.
Existing laws in California incorporate the modus operandi of approving and accepting bail and authorized police, sheriff, court employees to approve and accept bail in the amount fixed by the warrant of arrest. However, the bill would require to be set $0 for all offenses except serious and violent felonies, infringement of specified protective orders, sex offences, battery against a spouse and driving under the influence. This bill also required the Judicial Council to adopt, prepare and yearly revised. (Merilyn,2021) The bill required to be set as per the statewide schedule and the bill required the court, before grant bail, to carefully consider whether nonfinancial conditions will reasonably have protected the public interest and reasonably assure the presence of the arrestee during the trail. Furthermore, the court if concluded that money bail is mandatory so the court consider the arrestee’s ability to pay the amount for the granting of the of the bail.
Modus operand of the bail reform as per SB 262
It is worth mentioning to point here that the bill required the police, sheriff and court employees to approve and accept in the amount fixed by the bail schedule. It will require the court to order a return of the property or money paid to the bail bond licensee on behalf of arrestee to obtain bail if the proceedings against the arrestee is dismissed, where the arrestee has conveniently follow all the requirements of the court proceedings and if no charges are filed against the arrestee within 60 days of the arrest. Moreover, this bill would authorize the bail bonds licensee to keep a surcharge not to exceed 5% of the total amount paid by the arrestee. (California legislative information,2021).
Supporters of the Bill
As per Senator Bob Hertzberg, the bail grant to the accused should be based on the facts of the case not depends on the balance of someone’s bank account. As per assembly member Rob Bonta, the jailhouse door should not swing open and closed on the criteria of how much money someone has. This disproportionality vehemently impacts the low-income Californians and communities of color. As per Senator Nancy Skinner, the system of money bail in California permits wealthy people to post bail and conveniently go home while low-income people remains behind bars. (Skinner, 27 jan 2021)
Crucial grounds for which bail reforms are required in California.
As the pretrial justice system in California does not show more positive impacts for the maintenance of the criminal justice system so bail reforms are required. (Bonta, 2018).
Moreover, there are about 44,241 country jail inmates across California in 2020, which means that three- quarters of the state’s total jail population. This required bail reforms in California. It is also important to mention here that pre-trail detention creates many obstacles such as losing a job, facing mental torque, badly affect the mental peace, and child custody so reforming bail is one of the way to reduce these obstacles (Robinsons, 2018)
- For all other crimes, the California Judicial Council required to promulgate new legislation for a uniform bail schedule with standard bail amounts statewide.
- As the rate of incarceration in California is enhancing every day so legislations pertaining to bail reforms should be check and balance regularly.
- There should be more compensation for those innocent accused who are unable to get bail but faced mental torture and restricted in jail.
As many legislations were promulgated in California pertaining to the bail reforms. Senate Bill No.262 is at one side supported by some senators on other hand the bills were vehemently opposed by the bail industry and the California District Attorneys Association and Crime Victims United.
Author: Sehrish Salamat (Attorney at Law and Founder at Justice for All)
Amatya, P. K. (2017). Bail Reforms in California .
B, B. (2019). Wrestling with Risk: The Questions Beyond Money Bai. NCL Rev.
Bechtel, M. (01.04.2021 ). Justice bills progressing in California. https://peoplesworld.org/article/justice-bills-progressing-in-california-legislature/.
Bonta. (2018). The California Money Bail Reform Act: Ensuring Pretrial Justice and Public Safety. UCLA Criminal Justice Law Revew .
Information, C. L. (21.05.2021). Legislative Counsel Digest . https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220SB262#:~:text=The%20bill%20would%20prohibit%20costs,fixed%20by%20the%20bail%20schedule.
Peterson. (2019). The Future of Bail in California: Analyzing SB 10 Through the Prism of Past Reforms.
Robinsons, K. J. (2018). Danger ahead: Risk assessment and the future of bail reform. . Wash.L.Rev.
Skinner, N. (27 jan 2021). Lawmakers introduce bail reform measures. https://sd09.senate.ca.gov/news/20210127-lawmakers-introduce-bail-reform-measure.
Smith, R. (2017). Condemned to Repeat History-Why the Last Movement for Bail Reform Failed, and How This One Can Succeed. Poverty L.and Pol'y.