Los Angeles Times

Here's how state lawmakers plan to reform the bail system in California

March 26, 2017

By Jazmine Ulloa

State lawmakers have unveiled an ambitious plan to reform how counties in California set bail for defendants while they wait for their cases to be resolved or go to trial.

New language added Friday to bills by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) would prevent criminal defendants from having to post money as a condition of release from jail and would shift some power from judges to pretrial services agencies to assess the risks they would pose if allowed out in the community.

Under the legislation, each county would have to establish its own pretrial services agency to track inmates, remind them of court dates and develop “risk-assessment” tools to determine whether a defendant should be released. The programs, in use in other states, allow court and pretrial staff to use data and other evidence to determine whether a person is a risk to the public or likely to flee their charges.

“The bottom line is we are trying to get to the point that the determining factor for pretrial release is not the size of your wallet, but the nature of your risk,” Hertzberg said. “Are you a risk to society? Are you a public safety risk?”

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