California governor ends cash bail system so that ‘rich and poor are treated fairly’
On Tuesday, California governor Jerry Brown made a significant milestone when he signed a bill that would revamp a controversial cash bail system that many criticized for taking advantage of the poor.
Currently, America’s broken cash bail system allows for the accused, who have the money, to get out of jail and go home. If not, you stay in jail and await trial which could be months away. This could result in loss of job, homelessness, and children being forced into foster care. But if you’re wealthy, you can fight your case from the comfort of your home and lawyer up while poor suspects have to sit in jail and use a public defender.
“Today, California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly,” Brown said in a statement.
The new bill attempts to level the playing field and would remove the financial requirement as a condition to be freed. Brown’s bill would now allow for judges to decide who goes to jail and who remains locked up, the LA Times reports
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye helped to write the legislation after studying the issue and determining the system was “was outdated, unsafe and unfair.”
“A person’s checking account balance should never determine how they are treated under the law,” California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
But criminal justice reform advocates think it’s a bad idea to give judges so much leeway in deciding who goes to jail and who doesn’t. They sent a letter to Brown in opposition of the new bill.
The bill “sets up a system that allows judges nearly unlimited discretion to order people accused of crimes, but not convicted and presumptively innocent, to be held in jail with no recourse until their case is resolved,” the letter stated.
The new law will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2019.