Gov. Brown signs bill eliminating bail for suspects awaiting trial

FILE 2018 California Gov. Jerry Brown will reportedly consider three bills intended to add restrictions on gun ownership in his state

Almost forty years ago, a governor of California in his State of the State address "urged the Legislature to take on bail reform ... calling it a 'tax on poor people.'" That was Jerry Brown, who yesterday, near the end of his fourth non-consecutive term in office, finally had the opportunity to sign a bill abolishing cash bail in the state. Let us try and answer some of them for you.

Local court systems in California would be allowed to set their own standards for releasing people considered a medium risk of endangering the public or not appearing in court. Instead, counties will follow a pretrial risk assessment of a person before releasing them.

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

Suspects looking at serious, violent felonies won't be eligible for release prior to trial but the majority of suspects arrested for nonviolent misdemeanors will be let go within 12 hours of being booked, according to the legislation.

Senate Bill 10 sets in place a new era for pretrial detainment policy beginning in October of 2019.

Advocates say incarceration should be determined by risk to public safety rather than financial considerations.

"It can not guarantee a substantial reduction in the number of Californians detained while awaiting trial, nor does it sufficiently address racial bias in pretrial decision making", said the three executive directors of the California ACLU affiliates, Abdi Soltani (Northern California), Hector Villagra (Southern California) and Norma Chávez Peterson (San Diego & Imperial Counties).

There is strong reaction from people who will be impacted by California's new "Bail Reform" law. Bob Hertzberg, Democrat-Van Nuys, who authored the bill.

Other states have been watching California as they weigh overhauling their bail systems, said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, who works on criminal justice issues for the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU raised concerns that the law doesn't sufficiently address racial bias in pretrial decision making.

But in the last few weeks, as this final compromise bill was revealed, the ACLU and some other groups who have really pushed for this reform said they are going to oppose it. Opponents of the 100% renewable bill warned that electricity prices would go up if the state relied too heavily upon intermittent solar and wind before energy storage improves.

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