SACRAMENTO – Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, unveiled legislation today to reform California’s cash bail system and replace a pretrial process that often forces people of modest means to remain in jail until a court can determine their innocence or guilt but allows the wealthy to go free.
The legislation, entitled The California Money Bail Reform Act of 2017, will be introduced shortly after the 2017-18 state legislative session is called to order at noon. Hertzberg and Assemblymember Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, are introducing identical bills and working together with a broad coalition to craft the reform.
“The presumption of innocence is one of the foundations of the American justice system, but every day thousands of Californians who are awaiting trial are forced to be in jail because they don’t have the money to post bail,” Hertzberg said. “The current cash bail system is the modern equivalent of debtor’s prison – it criminalizes poverty, pure and simple – and that’s not right.”
By Jazmine Ulloa
California lawmakers next year will make it a top priority to reform the system through which judges award criminal offenders bail, saying courts across the state are punishing “the poor for being poor.”
Assemblyman Rob Bonta and Sen. Bob Hertzberg said they plan to fire the first salvo Monday, when lawmakers descend upon the Capitol for the start of the 2017 legislative session. They will introduce bills stating the Legislature intends to enact laws that will reduce the number of people detained before trial and address the racial and economic disparities in the bail process.
The details of upcoming legislation are still under deliberation, but Bonta and Hertzberg said they have assembled a broad coalition of organizations and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to tackle what they consider to be one of the most significant pushes — and likely one of the hardest battles — of the year.
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