LA TIMES: Thanks to Bail Industry, California Behind in Bail Reform as Illinois Setting Example on Eliminating Money Bail  

By Jocelyn Lopez 

LOS ANGELES, CA – The elimination of money bail is a slow and inconsistent process after California voters overturned the reform in 2020, states a recent editorial from the Times Editorial Board, that noted the vote was forced when the bail bond industry ran a “fear-stoking” campaign against the reform in 2020.

According to the editorial, Illinois became the first state in the nation to pass the money bail elimination bill. The law was upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court after the bail bond industry tried to sue. The source further states that, currently, individuals not deemed a risk to public safety are released, sometimes with conditions.

Opponents of the bail reform predicted a state of mayhem and crime, the editorial board asserts.

The no-money-bail program is doing well in Illinois, reports the Times Editorial Board, noting the low percentage of rearrests, four percent, is on par with the pre-reform years, and standing at 10 percent warrants issued has not fluctuated compared to the pre-reform years.

A cost to the no-money-bail program, notes the Times Editorial Board, is that judges are spending more time in pretrial hearings to weigh arguments and evidence. The editorial states, “Imagine a system in which a court hands out convictions or acquittals based on how much money the defendant pays.”

The Times Editorial Board asserts, “Such a system (bail) would be the very definition of corruption and injustice.”

The Times Editorial Board reports on the benefits the no-money bail program brings to the state such as: extracted families can use the money for other purposes such as housing, food and other daily expenses, lessening the burden of poverty that disproportionately affects people of color.

Illinois sees a decline in jail population which lessens taxpayer money spent to feed and house the jail population.

The Times Editorial Board states the bail bond industry “including agents and the sureties — in effect, insurance companies — that work with them” are the ones affected.

Praised for being ahead of Los Angeles County’s program, the Illinois program only applies to low-level crimes, the Times Editorial Board notes. Serious felony cases are not eligible for the no-money-bail release yet, but individuals can pay their bail and be freed, even if they are at high risk to public safety, reports the Times Editorial Board.

Another contrast includes that LA’s program only applies in the short pre-arraignment period that lasts only two or three days, therefore a freed defendant may be out for 30 days and cycled back into custody or ordered to pay money at arraignment, reports the Times Editorial Board.

The Superior Court faces backlash, sued by two dozen cities, as the Times Editorial Board explains, misinformed in the belief that the no-payment-bail reform makes the public less safe.

The Times Editorial Board adds that the bail system does not create a financial incentive to alter behavior; defendants will forfeit their money only if they fail to show up for hearings, and cities may believe people with money are “naturally better risks than people without.”

The Times editorial board suggests people may be eager to believe “fairy tales told to them by members of the same industry that defeated bail reform in California four years ago.”

About The Author

Jocelyn Lopez is a fourth year student at the University of California, Davis studying International Relations with a minor in Tech Management. As an intern with the Davis Vanguard. Jocelyn hopes to expand her knowledge on the criminal justice system and interested in public service. Through her internship she hopes to take the knowledge and apply it to future careers whether it is pursuing a career in law school or following a different path. Jocelyn likes to read, travel, cook and watch all genres of movies.

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