News Stories

Legislature should pass Sen. Hertzberg's SB 185

September 11, 2017

By EMMETT D. CARSON and KIMBERLY THOMAS RAPP

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a historic law this summer ending driver license suspensions for failure to pay traffic fines. Going forward, license suspensions are more likely to be about traffic safety than punishing people for not having money. Thousands of Californians will no longer risk losing their jobs for lack of a driver’s license.

August 28, 2017

BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Few issues are more urgently in need of attention from California lawmakers than bail reform. Every day, tens of thousands of presumably innocent Californians are sitting behind bars for no other reason than that they can’t afford the payment to go free.

They haven’t been convicted of a crime, but many of those awaiting trial will languish in county jails for months and even years. Some will lose their jobs while they wait. Others will lose their families and apartments. For them, time is of the essence.

August 28, 2017

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Pretty much everyone who spends any time examining the American system of secured cash bail comes away with the same conclusion: It’s unjust, expensive and ineffective, even counterproductive. People charged with crimes — all of whom are presumed innocent — get locked up for days, weeks or months not because they pose a risk of fleeing or endangering the public but simply because they’re too poor to buy their freedom. 

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August 16, 2017

By The Times Editorial Board

Arguments were filed last week in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Maranda Lynn ODonnell, a young mother who was held in a Houston jail for three days last year because she couldn't pay $2,500 in bail. Her alleged crime? Driving with an invalid license.

August 10, 2017

By Katie Lannan 

Nationwide, 500 new state laws in the past five years have addressed the pretrial side of criminal justice, an area every state has tackled in one way or another, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

July 18, 2017

By ADAM NAGOURNEY

LOS ANGELES — California lawmakers voted Monday to extend a cap-and-trade program until 2030, ending a legislative standoff that had threatened a critical component of the state’s pioneering efforts to reduce climate-altering emissions.

June 30, 2017

By The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board

California has a host of public policy issues that the state government hasn’t done a good job addressing. But when it comes to criminal justice reform, the state has seen considerable progress in recent years, thanks to Gov. Jerry Brown and the state lawmakers who have figured out how counterproductive it is to impose punishments that have the effect of upending people’s lives.

June 19, 2017

By Larry Buhl

The California Legislature is considering a proposal to link the cost of a traffic ticket to a person’s ability to pay. Supporters say if it becomes law, it will keep minor traffic violations from pushing low-income California drivers deep into debt. And, it could help the state recoup tens of millions of dollars in delinquent fines that people just can’t afford to pay.

June 12, 2017

By Paul Payne

It all started with a drunken-driving arrest. Then there was the ticket for getting behind the wheel with a suspended license.

Soon, Tyler Watson of Sebastopol had unpaid fines totaling thousands of dollars — and no hope of ever getting his license back.

So this week, Watson, 38, walked into Sonoma County traffic court asking for help. The judge offered him a payment plan but warned he must stay off the road until his debt is settled.

May 23, 2017

By Marisa Lagos and Sukey Lewis

Every year in California, nearly 1 million people are arrested and booked into jail.

Their freedom before they go to trial often hinges on a century-old money bail system that critics say favors the rich: If you can pay, you’re free — and if you can’t, you’re stuck behind bars.

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