Lawmakers and Stakeholders Release Updated California Bail Reform Proposal
Final version of SB 10 unveiled, with support of social justice and criminal justice reform groups
SACRAMENTO – Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) today revealed an updated proposal to eliminate the current system of money bail in California.
SB 10, the California Money Bail Reform Act, will instead establish a new system for determining a defendant’s custody status while they are awaiting trial – based not the defendant’s ability to pay, but instead on an assessment of their public safety risk and other factors.
“Since we introduced this bill nearly two years ago, I have lived and breathed bail reform,” said Senator Hertzberg. “Currently, we have a system that punishes people and takes away their liberty, simply because they have less money. That’s not fair, and it’s not protecting public safety. The point of this bill is to treat people as people, and to consider their public safety risk and their flight risk on an individual basis.”
“The jailhouse door shouldn’t open and close based on how much money you have in your pocket,” said Assemblymember Bonta. “Under SB 10, California will become the first state in the nation to abolish the predatory money bail system and replace it with an individualized risk-based system. This is real reform that will provide far greater justice and far greater safety.”
Under the proposal, defendants will be held only if they are a risk to public safety or a risk to flee or miss their court date. Recommendations for non-monetary release conditions, such as GPS trackers, electronic home detention, or a number of other proven methods, would instead be made in place of money bail.
California's current bail system punishes low-income individuals by presenting a terrible choice: stay locked up for months (before ever being convicted) and risk losing your job and your livelihood; go into debt to pay a bail agent a nonrefundable deposit to post your bail; or plead guilty to be able to go home. Meanwhile, the wealthy can buy their freedom.
While some individuals are considered a risk to public safety and may be held in custody for that reason, many are not a threat to public safety and could be released, monitored and reminded when to return for court hearings.
The current bail system not only disproportionately affects the poor, but it also costs counties. It currently costs over $100 a day to hold someone awaiting trial, according to the Board of State and Community Corrections. The Pretrial Justice Institute reports that the cost of supervising a defendant in the community is about 10 percent of the cost of keeping him or her in jail.
Today’s announcement is the culmination of nearly two years of leading voices calling for reform to the state’s cash bail system, including Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Chief Justice Tani Cantil Sakauye, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and more. While more stakeholders are expected to lend their support upon today’s announcement, several co-authors, sponsors, and supporters of the bill have already affirmed their commitment to end money bail in California:
“SB 10 is an important step toward equal justice,” Senate leader Toni Atkins said. “The bill strikes a careful balance, protecting public safety and leveling the playing field for all individuals in our criminal justice system.”
“The Western Center on Law and Poverty supports SB 10 because its passage will end the intent and deliberative use of wealth as a measure of whether or not a person is be released following an arrest. By ending money bail and ensuring that people will not be subject to monetary conditions of release, we will also stop the transfer of assets from low-income communities of color to the $2 Billion private for-bail industry. California’s current status quo, which jails people for benign charges because they cannot afford to pay bail, coerces innocent people to plead guilty to crimes they didn’t commit and increases the likelihood that people will fail to prove their innocence at trial. SB 10 is a game changer and an important next step in reforming California’s criminal justice system.” - Jessica Bartholow, Policy Advocate, Western Center Law & Poverty; Chairperson, California Asset Building Coalition
"California must take the opportunity in SB 10 to make our communities safer and end the racially and economically unjust application of cash bail that impacts SEIU members and our state. The momentum behind SB 10 is strong and we can’t miss the chance to move justice forward this year, while continuing to press for further reforms.” - Laphonza Butler, President, SEIU Local 2015
"SB 10 will eliminate money bail in California, making it one of only two jurisdictions in the nation to achieve that," said Lenore Anderson, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. "While California still has a long way to go to develop effective and fair pretrial practices, ending wealth-based determinations of who is incarcerated is a major and historic milestone." - Lenore Anderson, Executive Director, Californians for Safety and Justice.
“The Anti-Recidivism Coalition supports SB 10. ARC members know all too well the traumas and difficulties created by spending even a single day in jail as a result of not being able to post bail. SB 10 is an important first step in the right direction towards reforming the current system. A system that has negatively impacted Californians, especially people of color living in impoverished communities. ARC will remain committed to fighting alongside partners and end the cash bail system.” – Anti-Recidivism Coalition
"The money bail system in California is fundamentally unjust, resulting in too many people being jailed simply because they are poor and cannot afford bail. Californians don’t want to wait any longer, and by passing SB 10 this year, our leaders in Sacramento have the opportunity to end money bail and take a bold step towards a more equitable criminal justice system." - Arnie Sowell, Vice President of California Policy, NextGen America
The bill now moves to the Assembly Floor for a vote.
Media Contact: Katie Hanzlik
Senator Robert M. Hertzberg
Capitol Building, Room 4038