California has become the first state to eliminate cash bail

California will become the first state in the nation to abolish bail for suspects awaiting trial.  The bill, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last week, effectively seeks to end the cash bail system in California in October of 2019.

When cash bail is eliminated, those arrested and charged with a crime won’t be putting up money or borrowing it from a bail bond agent to obtain their release.  Instead, local courts will decide who to keep in custody and whom to release while they await trial.  Those decisions will be based on an algorithm created by the courts in each jurisdiction, meaning that different counties will have different standards for who is released and who is held, pending trial.

In most nonviolent misdemeanor cases, defendants would be released within 12 hours.  In other instances, defendants will be scored on how likely they are to show up for their court date, the seriousness of their crime, and the likelihood of recidivism (committing additional crimes).  Some people could be released on other conditions, including monitoring by GPS or regular check-ins with the local police department.

However, the bail  industry is expected to challenge this new law in the courts, so the law’s future is uncertain.


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