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L.A. County Quits Cash Bail - Long Road for Pretrial Reform

Posted by Sara Cooper | Oct 23, 2023 | 0 Comments

The arrest process in Los Angeles is not the same anymore for criminal defendants.

The county court decided that individuals who are accused by misdemeanors and non-violent felonies will now typically be released and be given a legal order to appear in court at a later date, instead of having to be allowed to leave jail with a given cash bail.

The bail system here in the state has two different steps. For most areas, people are detained from the time of their arrest and the date of the arraignment, leading to whether or not they can be released pretrial by the judge.

Many individuals cannot afford cash bail, and remaining in jail can impact their career, paying rent on time, their families, and of course, their overall health. This year, 33 people have died in L.A. County jails, many of them getting hypothermia due to the cold temperatures in where they were detained.

This has been a change years in the making, with its ups and downs. In 2018, a bill was introduced to end cash bail that was later rejected by 2020 CA voters. Groups that were against the bill included law enforcement and private bail bondsman, with the argument that it would increase crime.

Studies however, had said the opposite, with the Marshall Project stating that, “One witness told the court that the current system is surprisingly criminogenic — “that is, secured money bail causes more crime than would be the case were the money bail schedules no longer enforced.””

Ohio does not have cash bail anymore, but it wasn't an easy success. From 2020 to 2021, state supreme court justices had made judicial changes to reduce the amount of people in jail pretrial, but from 2022, more factors are to be considered like public safety in order to determine if an individual should be released before even their arraignment.

Bail reform can probably be seen as one of the least favored components of prison reform. Even New York had tremendous backlash for curating legislation that would end cash bail.

More updates to come.

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