Unjust Bail System Ending in San Francisco

Judge Issues Injunction to Remove Price Tag on Freedom

(From Press Release – Equal Justice Under Law) – Individuals arrested in San Francisco will no longer be assigned a price tag on their freedom. Yesterday, federal judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers issued an injunction that will finally put an end to San Francisco’s discriminatory and arbitrary bail system. The judge agreed with the settlement proposed by Equal Justice Under Law and Sheriff Vicky Hennessy which details how the system will operate moving forward.

Equal Justice Under Law, a national law non-profit based in Washington, D.C., filed its lawsuit to end San Francisco’s unfair use of money bail in October 2015. On March 4, 2019 Judge Gonzalez Rogers declared the city’s bail schedule unconstitutional, and the injunction issued yesterday clarifies how the city will end its bail schedule.

According to the judge’s order, all people who are charged with misdemeanors or non-serious felonies must be released within 18 hours—not just those who could afford to pay money. Law enforcement also has the right to seek an additional 12 hours of detention if they believe someone to be a danger, and the superior court or pre-trial diversion could order that a person remain in jail. Judge Gonzalez Rogers also ordered in the injunction that for serious felonies, individuals will be held until they are seen by a judge, but they may submit an application for consideration of release, which a judge will review. This was one of the primary focuses of the proposed settlement in this case.

Equal Justice Under Law Executive Director, Phil Telfeyan, stated, “Bringing an end to the money bail system is a huge victory for San Franciscans. This means that individuals will no longer be jailed simply because they cannot afford to buy their freedom.” These changes will take effect 180 days from the date of the judge’s ruling. The new policies will only affect people who are arrested after yesterday’s ruling.

Phil Telfeyan added, “This case has been ongoing for five years, and we are relieved to see an end to the discriminatory and unconstitutional bail system. This is a win for San Francisco, and we hope that other cities and states will soon follow.”

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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1 Comment

  1. Tia Will

    A question. Since the existing bail bond system was found unconstitutional, why was it not made retroactive? Of course, it would take time for review, but it is no more just for those incarcerated now than it would be for those in the future.


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