After a 40 year battle, California becomes the first state to end cash bail reform. The bill is an inevitable result of California’s appellate court decision which determined that cash bail was unconstitutional. This is terrible news for bounty hunters, but is that a good thing for the public? Here’s the deal, to weight the effects of this new “revolutionary” bill, you must first understand the current bail system as it exists in most states today.
What is Cash Bail?You are likley familiar with the concept of cash bail. When a person is suspected of a criminal offense, they have to go to court. But because of the sluggishness of modern law, the suspects court case may be weeks, and in many cases several months away. To let the suspect, who is still presumed innocent, go free till his court date, a bail price is set .
Paying BailThe bail, set by the judge, can range from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. The suspect can either pay the entire bail out of pocket, or he can pay a bail bond company 10%- 15% of the bail price. Since most people don’t often have hundreds or thousands of dollars laying about, many people opt to work with the bail bondsman, or sit in jail. If the suspect pays bail out of pocket, he will get the money back as long as he shows up to court. If he paid the bail bondsman, he will loss the 10% whether he comes to court or not. If he does not come to court, the bail bond company will use bounty hunters to get either bring him back in cuffs, or in many cases seize property of the defendants or those that co-signed with the defendant. It is really too much to go into her, but you get the idea. Cash bonds are intended to make someone come to court dates on time, without having to sit in jail. There are clearly many issues with such a system, especially for the poor.
How does California’s bill affect this system?Though the new law does not go into affect until October of 2019, it is going to have significant impacts on California’s legal system, and the society impacted by it. According to Governor Brown “Today, California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly,” Ok, that is somewhat true, but is it the full picture? Most definitely not.
So what is changing?Most obviously, cash bail will no longer be a thing. But what will defendants do while they wait for their court date? Do they just get to go free before their court date, or do they have to sit in jail until their trial? Well, that will almost entirely be up to the judge. The judge will view each case, such as in the previous system. The judge will then determine, based on the alleged crime, the suspects current behavior, and past, and the judge on their own will determine whether the defendant will sit in jail, or go home.
What is the Takeaway?It’s quite simple. As usual, this new bill ignores the root cause of the issue. That issue has fractures on both sides. The ACLU for example, pulled its support of the bill, citing that it gives judges too much power.
“We are concerned that the system that’s being put into place by this bill is too heavily weighted toward detention and does not have sufficient safeguards to ensure that racial justice is provided in the new system,” the ACLU’s Natasha Minsker told NPRThe bail bonds companies of course, will go out of business, or at least have to change their business model. Some are even fighting back. And many others are concerned about the implications that this bill will have on victims of crimes, and the new systems ability to effectively ably criminal justice. And then there is me. Yet, again I see bill supposedly meant to create a fairer system MISSING THE POINT. I am not sure what it is about the governmental system. Whether is corruption, greed or shear stupidity, but the government and special interests on both sides always miss the point. WHATS THAT POINT? Why does it always take so long to hear a case in the first place, and how is it not a violation of the defendants 6th amendment right of a fair and speedy public trial? How is it acceptable that a person, who is presumed innocent to sit in jail for months, if not years on end, just to determine if they are guilty of not? This is likley why over 90% of all criminal cases end in a plea deal. This is a clear abuse of power, and a violation of every Americans rights. There are several factors that lead to the slow grind of the legal system from too many laws, to not enough lawyers, and even the intentional slowing of the legal system so that the lawyers, city officials, and judges take more of your money while boring you to death. I apologize for the rant, but it is so annoying to see another false improvement to the legal system that again misses the point. What can you expect when greed runs the government.