The California bail system is one of the most controversial issues the state is facing today. That is because it requires cold, hard cash on the part of the defendant in order to be set free. While this issue may seem simple, the fact remains that people are considering it as injustice.
If you are unfamiliar with California’s money bail, here are five things you need to know:
- It imprisons defendants who have not undergone trial yet. In California, when a person gets arrested for something he or she has done, he will be turned into jail where he will be aware of the charges pressed against him. However, even without an official hearing for the case, the defendant will need to spend jail time.
- It punishes people for being poor. Every defendant is required to pay an amount of money for the bail. In California, the average bail amount is $50,000, which is a huge sum of money. For the wealthy, paying the total amount of bail is easy, but not for those coming from poor families.
- It forces some defendants to plead guilty in their cases. Because most defendants cannot afford to post bail, they would just plead guilty in their case even if they know they are innocent. Why? So that they can reduce the amount of time they have inside the jail.
- In most cases, it can only be solved with the help of bail bondsmen. Bail bondsmen are very popular particularly in California because of the great demand. For families and parties who cannot afford to pay the whole bail amount, they can get the service a bondsman, and pay him a premium equivalent to 10 to 20 percent of the total bail amount. Once the bond is made, the defendant can now go free, and wait for trial at the comfort of his own home.
- It is costly for Californian counties, and the state as a whole. According to a report, the state spends money for every person in jail that has not undergone trial yet. The amount is around $1 billion per day.
Money bail has been the system in California for many years, and the state government has not made any move in changing – until now. Two bills were drafted that aims to reform the bail system. The first one, by state Sen. Robert Herzberg, has moved on and passed the Senate, while another, by Alameda Democtratic representative Rob Bonta, didn’t make it.
The identical bills seek to reform and ease the money bail system, adding another option in determining which defendants are booked and which are freed before their scheduled trial.
On the other hand, the reform bill is highly opposed by republicans, particularly bail bond agents. They are claiming that tweaking the bail system may pose risks to the safety of the community and society within counties.