Alliance of California Judges Rebukes Proposed Legislation to Eliminate Pretrial Bail System
The Alliance of California Judges (ACJ), a group of more than 500 current and retired judges from across the state, today voiced strong opposition to Assembly Bill 42 (Bonta) and Senate Bill 10 (Hertzberg), measures which the judges say are so drastic that they will have catastrophic effects on public safety and the California court system.
“While the judicial community generally prefers to remain at arm’s length from the legislative process, the ACJ concerns with these bills are so grave that they could not afford to stay silent,” said Topo Padilla, President of the Golden State Bail Agents Association.
In the group’s opposition letter issued to author Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), White outlined significant flaws in the legislation:
“Those arrested for selling drugs, committing identity theft, vandalizing homes and businesses, stealing huge sums of money, or burglarizing dozens of businesses would all presumptively be granted pretrial release . . .. These bills also inexplicably exclude residential burglary from the list of crimes for which arrestees are not to be considered for release without judicial authorization . . ..
“By eliminating the judge’s ability to set a bail amount when issuing a warrant, the proposed legislation virtually ensures that wanted suspects will not be brought to justice in a timely manner, if at all . . ..
“The bills would require in some cases that the prosecuting agency be prepared for a contested hearing with live witness testimony in less than 24 hours, at risk of a dangerous felon being set free . . ..
“AB 42 and SB 10 are well-intended attempts to address the fact that the bail system affects persons of differing income levels differently. But nearly every county now has a pretrial services division in place to screen defendants and recommend their release on appropriate conditions, without bail, when doing so does not pose a serious danger to the public or a significant risk of non-appearance. A bill mandating a pretrial release program in every county, and perhaps providing some limited funding for that purpose, would be a sensible response to the problem. These twin bills go way too far, and their effect would be a near shutdown of the court system and a serious risk to public safety. We urge that these proposals be reconsidered and substantially amended.”
Read Full Letter Here: ACJ 5-9-17 AB 42 Letter to Asm Bonta