The Sacramento Bee

It’s time to do away with California’s cash bail system

April 10, 2017


On any given day in California, tens of thousands of people sit in county jail not because of a criminal conviction, but because they can’t afford to leave.

Such is the travesty of justice that is the cash bail system. At $50,000, the state’s median bail amount is out of reach for most defendants, who tend to be poor or working class.

Many find themselves with little choice but to stay locked up for weeks or even months, letting their lives unravel on the outside while the legal system runs its course. Others opt for plea deals to get out faster, accepting responsibility for crimes that they may not have committed, but can’t afford to fight.

Affluent defendants have no such problem buying their way to pretrial freedom.

This is not what criminal justice should look like in California – a state that has gone to great lengths to unwind 1990s-style tough-on-crime laws, reforming the parole system and sentencing guidelines.

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