A Bail Reform Time Warp
By Eric Siddall
Bail reform advocates are in a time warp. Their portrayals of the criminal justice system resemble Charles Dickens’s England more than present day California. They describe jails filled to the brim with first-time, indigent, low-level offenders languishing behind bars and losing their livelihoods, families and dignity. …
According to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department data, the number of bail-eligible individuals held in custody is closer to 26 percent. Note that Los Angeles is not only the largest county in California, but constitutes almost a third of the criminal population. …
When we dig into the numbers a little deeper and examine who is actually in custody, a clearer explanation of why those 26 percent remain in custody emerges. Ninety-one percent of this subset are in custody on a felony. Sixty-two percent are in custody for violence against a person, weapons related charges, or sex offenses.
Who is not in custody? Drug offenders. They make up a meager .7 percent of the pretrial in-custody population. Minor property crime offenders make up 1.7 percent.
Most significantly, misdemeanor offenders represent less than 1 percent of this population. Despite constituting 60 percent of the arrestees taken into custody – totaling about 15,671 – they account for 606 of the inmates and of that total number, only 349 are eligible for bail.
These data are verifiable; Hertzberg’s are not. The 66 percent figure is repeated so many times that people begin to believe it. But where are the data underlying that figure? Why is there no attempt to systematically gather data and portray the true scope of the problem? Sound solutions depend on it. …
Eric Siddall is vice president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys.
Read Full Article: “Bail Reform Time Warp,” Daily Journal, 11/13/17