If you are arrested for allegedly having committed a crime, you will likely be offered bail in most states. Once paid, you can go about your life as usual, but are expected to appear in court at your appointed date. If you fail to appear, the money you put up for bail will be forfeited and a warrant for your arrest will be issued. Make sense, right?
Financial incentives are as good as any for compelling people to appear before a judge. But, what if you have limited, or no means for putting up bail? The answer is, as you have probably already determined, that you will have to stay in jail, until you are either convicted or acquitted.
In recent years, a number of people and rights activists have raised concerns about the fairness of bail. The argument is that bail directly affects the poor. A disparity that keeps thousands of people needlessly behind bars. A couple of years ago the non-profit organization Equal Justice Under Law began filing lawsuits which challenge the money bail system. And as a result, they have had some success in a number of areas, with regards to ending the practice.
California state Senator Bob Hertzberg and Assemblyman Rob Bonta aim to push through legislation that would change or end the money bail system, The Sacramento Bee reports. Such legislation is of the utmost importance, especially when you consider that data from the Board of State and Community Corrections indicates that roughly 63% of inmates in California jails are awaiting trial.
The Public Policy Institute of California reports that bail in California is five times higher than the national average, with a median of $50,000. Clearly, most people (alleged criminals or not) cannot afford such a steep price tag. What’s more, failing to come up with bail, as Senator Hertzberg points out, effects more than just the inmate.
“They can’t pay their rent. They can’t pay child support or take their kids to school. There’s so many other consequences to that,” Hertzberg said. “That isn’t patriotic. That isn’t American. That isn’t the right thing to do.”
Naturally, those against ending money bail in California citing the interest of public safety, will likely include:
- Bail Bond Agents
- Police Officers
- District Attorneys
At the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower, we will continue to follow this important topic.