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California Passes Law That Ends Money Bail Before Trial



California becomes the first state to legislatively end the use of all cash bail. Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed legislation on Tuesday to eliminate the use of money bail and replace it with a system of risk assessment to determine whether or not defendants can be safely released from jail while awaiting trial.

In most states, judges can set a sum of money that defendants must put up ? with or without the help of a bail bondsman ? in exchange for their release from jail before trial. Courts typically aren’t required to consider the defendant’s ability to pay or risk profile, which means poor people facing only lower-level charges are often left to languish in jail for weeks or months before any determination of guilt.

The California Money Bail Reform Act will upend this system by prohibiting judges from setting monetary payments as a condition for pretrial release.Criminal justice reformers had initially applauded the bill, saying it was a necessary change to a cash bail system that disproportionately favors wealthier detainees but it also leads to overcrowding in jails.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2019, California jurisdictions must use pretrial assessment algorithms to determine whether defendants awaiting trial can safely be released into the community and how likely they are to return for future court dates. The algorithm takes into account a number of factors, including the severity of the charges and the defendant’s past criminal record. Judges may deny release for those determined to be too high of a risk.

Source : Huffington Post