Los Angeles County to suspend cash bail, opponents claim safeguards unenforceable
Assault, stalking, domestic battery and violation of a protective order will still require cash bail.
(The Center Square) -
After a May injunction suspending cash bail for two months for those accused of non-violent crimes in Los Angeles County due to “dismal” pre-trial detention conditions, the county has moved forward with ending cash bail for most crimes beginning on Oct. 1.
Assault, stalking, domestic battery and violation of a protective order will still require cash bail, while human trafficking, battery on a peace officer and sex with a minor will trigger judicial review.
“Any determination of an arrestee’s status after arrest but before being charged should be based on an individualized determination of risk and likelihood to return to court,” said L.A. County Presiding Judge Samantha Jessner. “A low-risk arrestee should not be held in jail simply because they cannot post the necessary funds to be released pending arraignment.”
Immediate past L.A. County sheriff Alex Villaneuva shared his disagreement with the decision, noting the probation department already lacks the staff it needs to complete its regular duties, and that adding supervision of zero-bail alleged criminals would completely destroy the department’s ability to function.
To combat the potential that individuals will use this policy to commit more crimes, defendants who are out on either parole or free before their trials are caught committing crimes will go before judges instead of being automatically released without bail again. According to Villaneuva, a lack of real-time data shared across the county’s over 50 law enforcement departments means this is impossible and would increase crime.
“You can get arrested in Pomona for a felony, you’re caught and released, cited out, and get arrested in Pacoima, and you’d be out again, because there’s no method of knowing who has been cited where.”
While the Superior Court of Los Angeles County used a study finding eliminating pre-trial detention decreases rearrests for misdemeanors by 5.8% and felonies by 2.8% to justify its decision, data from other counties suggests this finding is highly unlikely. According to the Yolo County District Attorney, while zero-bail policies were in effect from April 2020 through June 1, 2021, 71% of those arrested were rearrested during that time frame, while 29% of those rearrested were arrested for violent crimes.
“LA is finished,” wrote rapper 50 Cent in an Instagram post on the topic. “Watch how bad it gets out there.”