This week represented a milestone for California in the criminal justice system when Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed legislation eliminating cash bail in the state. Starting in October 2019, a system of risk assessment will replace cash bail — a move deemed more fair to defendants with little ability to pay bail.
Senate Bill 10, California puts into place “risk assessments” of individuals and non-monetary conditions of release. A “low” risk will be released with minimal conditions while a “medium-risk” person will be held or released according to local conditions. “High-risk” persons would remain in custody.
The legislation was opposed by most law enforcement groups as well as the bail-bond industry. Bondsmen charge a nonrefundable 10 percent fee to post bail. They also supply the personnel to collect individuals who fail to appear for trial. That system greatly augments the law enforcement forces in collecting defendants on the lam.
New Jersey eliminated cash bail for nearly all crimes in January 2017, but has not reported serious problems.