Bail is a right every citizen has in the United States. It’s something we all take for granted but should fight to protect. In some states, this right is being threatened. In 2018, the current governor, Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 10 – which would have eliminated the cash bail system altogether. A major referendum effort was successful, and this November, voters will be able to vote on this impactful change on the criminal justice system.
The Importance of Bail
Our criminal justice system is based on the premise that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Without bail, people could remain in jail for indefinite amounts of time as bureaucrats face backlogs and government programs work to catch up. Being locked up for days, and even weeks after an arrest isn’t Constitutional.
Why Bills Doing Away is a Bad Option
The bail system does have room for improvement, but doing away with it altogether is dangerous. Here are some of the negative outcomes it could have:
- There would be no accountability for defendants to return to court, as no money was used as bail.
- Law enforcement would be burdened with the responsibility of ensuring that defendants appear in court.
- Counties would be burdened with higher costs (the bill for SB10 in California was expected to cost $200 million per year). This cost would ultimately fall to taxpayers.
- Communities and victims would be endangered, as many defendants wouldn’t show up for court, and would remain on the streets.
Many organizations oppose the bill in California, including the NAACP, ACLU, and PreTrial Justice Institute. They believe a bill doing away with bail would have the opposite effect on the very people it is trying to protect. Local bond agencies like Martinez Family Bail Bonds are fighting to rally local support in opposition to the bill. We can do the same in our own communities should legislation like this arrive.
We Need to Fight for the Future of Bail In Our Country
The future of bail is uncertain in California. Legislature like it can be introduced across the U.S. We need to fight to keep our right to bail, to protect the innocent and our Constitutional rights.