Bill to make California first state to end bail before trial

Gov. Jerry Brown

"Today, California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly", Brown said in a statement.

California's governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Tuesday which will eliminate bail for suspects awaiting trial - making it the first state to enact such a law.

Brown honored the pledge he made previous year to work with the Democrat-controlled legislature and Supreme Court Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye to pass the reform before leaving office in January, according to the Los Angeles Times.

'Our old system of money bail was outdated, unsafe, and unfair.

AB 1797 will take effect July 1, 2019. It is too early to determine, however, whether the discretion given to judges in assessing the risks involved in pretrial release is producing inequities in the system. That entity would assess the likelihood that the person will not appear in court or commit a new crime while released, and would make a recommendation for conditions of release.

For other suspects, local courts will conduct a risk assessment.

SB 10 was approved by the Legislature last week, after a almost two-year push, with largely Democratic support.

Opposers of the new law fear that the risk-based tools will only lead to more racial disparity. "Risk assessment tools are prone to racial, gender, and socio-economic bias, because they rely on criminal justice data", stated the Essie Justice Group. Atkins said lawmakers would resume work on the effort next year. But new provisions are so problematic that many of its key backers, including the ACLU of California, have not only withdrawn support-but actively urged a veto.

If the bill is signed into law, California would become the second state, after Hawaii, to authorize a 100-percent renewable energy law.

Advocates of abolishing bail contend that too many defendants remain stuck in custody because they can not afford to bail out, effectively creating unequal justice based on wealth. "Getting rid of money bail is meritorious; however, doing so by potentially expanding pretrial incarceration is unacceptable". Bob Hertzberg, along with Assemblyman Rob Bonta, right.

The revised bill sailed through the Assembly Appropriations Committee on August 16 and advanced to the Assembly floor on the August 20, just after the amendments were adopted.

Brown has 30 days to sign the bill. While the case is set for trial on September 17, the plaintiffs' attorneys sent a letter to U.S District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers last week saying SB 10 pretty much resolves the case.

Federal courts in the United States rarely require defendants to post cash bail.

In a phone interview, attorney Phil Telfeyan with the Washington, D.C. -based nonprofit Equal Justice Under Law, who is also representing the plaintiffs, said the case is in limbo until the September 7 hearing.

The judge said her decision was tied to recent reforms that set a high bar for holding suspects without bail.