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money bail

The battle to reform California’s money bail system continues, and it would seem that this problem should have been resolved years ago given the progressive nature of the Golden State. Almost one year ago we discussed the topic of cash bail on this blog, specifically how the system favors the rich and discriminates against the poor. As it stands right now, people awaiting trial have one of two options, either pay 10 percent (nonrefundable) of the set bail to a bondsman or bide one’s time in jail until the proceedings come to a close.

For the wealthy, what is ten-percent of $10,000 bail but a forgettable drop in the bucket? To people of lower socioeconomic standing, $1,000 might cover bills for an entire month. What’s more, opting out of bail could mean a lengthy jail stay, during which an individual may lose their job, apartment, and possibly even child custody.

Most of the developed world, it turns out, has long since done away with the practice of nonrefundable money bail. In many places, defendants can pay the 10 percent of their bond and get a refund after the trial comes to an end, provided of course that they show up to court. The Philippines and most American states are the only places where private bail guarantors reign supreme, The Los Angeles Times reports. In the United States, the industry has influential lobbyists with the ear of many a lawmaker.

Ending Money Bail

The UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs published a report showing the median bail amount in California is about $50,000—five times higher than anywhere else in the nation. Around 90 percent of people detained pretrial are only behind bars because they can’t cover the cost of bail.

“While defendants await trial in jail custody, they are unable to attend to their obligations, such as working, going to school, paying rent, or caring for family members,” the report states. 

Some 39 years ago, California had an opportunity to end the divisive practice of nonrefundable cash bail. The state Senate approved a measure that would reform the system, but then Gov. Jerry Brown was unable to sign the bill because lobbyist won in the end, according to the article. Once again, an opportunity has arrived to end this punishing practice once and for all; last year, the Senate passed SB 10; however, Gov. Brown has yet to sign the bill, and you can probably guess why, lobbyists.


Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

Please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you are in need of legal assistance. Attorney Brower brings over 30 years of experience to the table, and he is committed to achieving the best possible outcome for you and your loved ones.

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