Reformers Praise Los Angeles Cash Bail Reforms

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By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Los Angeles, CA – This month, the Los Angeles Superior Court implemented changes to its bail schedule that proponents believe with “will promote equity, fairness and public safety.”

Los Angeles Superior Court implemented a new bail system known as Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols (PARP) effective on October 1.

The Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols will determine release status based on an arrestee’s risk to public or victim safety and their likelihood of returning to court while reducing reliance on money bail as a condition of release for many of those arrested in Los Angeles County for non-violent, non-serious felonies and misdemeanors.

As Presiding Judge Samantha P. Jessner announced, “A person’s ability to pay a large sum of money should not be the determining factor in deciding whether that person, who is presumed innocent, stays in jail before trial or is released.”

She added, “Any determination of an arrestee’s status after arrest but before being charged should be based on an individualized determination of risk and likelihood to return to court.”

Importantly, “A low-risk arrestee should not be held in jail simply because they cannot post the necessary funds to be released pending arraignment.”

While this policy has become a lightning rod for traditional tough on crime prosecutors, reformers have praised the move.

Miriam Krinsky of Fair and Just Prosecution on Friday pointed out, “The research driving these changes is crystal clear – reforming cash bail does not jeopardize public safety and has actually been shown to decrease crime.”

She explained, “That is not surprising when we consider that even short periods of pretrial detention have been shown to destabilize people and increase their likelihood of future criminal activity. Indeed, from New Jersey to Kentucky to Texas, we’ve seen that crime rates and rearrest rates consistently stay stable or decline in jurisdictions that pursue bail reform and move away from conditioning pretrial release on the size of someone’s bank account.”

She continued, “And here in Los Angeles – where a similar bail schedule to what the court implemented was used during the pandemic – LAPD data showed decreased crime rates.”

Some such as Yolo County DA Jeff Reisig have argued that their analysis of “zero bail” shows that releasing people pre-trial without supervision leads to additional crimes.  However, multiple analyses by the Vanguard (here and here) have shown that to be flawed and methodologically problematic.

The Vanguard noted that “they failed to statistically baseline their data—which basically means it had no comparative controls.”  Moreover, the comparison points are “necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison.”  Most importantly the analysis “failed to control for other variables that might have driven changes in crime rates other than changes in bail process.”

Nevertheless, the study has been cited ad nauseum by right wing media and even some mainstream outlets pushing back against reform.

Krinsky responded to critics stating, “We cannot let fear-mongering derail these long overdue reforms. Those opposed to common sense bail reform want you to believe that it will lead to increases in violent crime.”

She pointed out that “the system they seek to maintain allows rich people accused of violent crimes to buy their freedom and be back on the streets while poor people accused of nonviolent misdemeanors are forced to languish in the county jails where at least 37 people have died this year.”

Krinsky said, “If those sounding the alarm about bail reform truly cared about public safety solutions, they would support the sound changes embraced by the Superior Court. Instead, we see them peddling misinformation intended to preserve a system that further destabilizes individuals and communities.”

Krinsky concluded, “We commend the leaders in Los Angeles who are working towards a more fair and equitable criminal legal system, and we hope all members of our community will put people above politics and work together to craft proven solutions that promote safer and healthier communities.”

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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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