A new study from the District Attorney’s Office says that 70% of the time, people who were released from jail applying for Yolo County’s $0 bail policy were re-arrested. In April 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic was at its worst, the California Judicial Council made a statewide emergency bail schedule. This meant low-level offenders didn’t have to pay bail, stopping the virus from spreading among inmates. Most low-level felony and misdemeanor charges were given bail of $0 because of the order. The emergency ended in June 2020, but each county was given the choice of whether or not to keep the $0 bail law.
During that time, 420 people released on $0 bail were arrested again. Of those, 123 were nabbed for violent crimes, such as robbery, carjacking, murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, and domestic violence. One person from Yolo County who had to pay $0 bail was arrested for murder in the county of Sacramento in July 2021 after a shootout.
The district attorney says there is no good reason to uphold this policy after the pandemic, especially since the number of violent crimes in California is rising. Over 70% of those whose bail was set at $0 have gone on to commit more crimes, including violent ones like robbery and murder.
Bail is an essential part of our judicial system. It is critical and has been since our country’s inception. Because it was so crucial, the founders thought it prudent to provide a right to plausible bail in the Bill of Rights. Bail bond services are linked to a defendant’s right to remain innocent until proven guilty. A person should be able to be released on bail while awaiting trial.
Benefits of $0 Bail Policy
Reduces Economic Discrimination
The original bail bond system in California, which still exists in other states, exhibits a great deal of economic prejudice. A person’s economic standing is determined by the amount of money they have, their position, the house they reside in, and so on. All of this, unfortunately, pertains to the justice system. Wealthy, upper-class persons can avoid jail time by posting bail for a felony that would have been too hazardous to be released for.
On the other hand, poor, lower-class citizens may serve time in jail for a minor offense because they did not have enough money to post bail. Most of the time, the judges ordered the lower-class folks to be released on bond, but they couldn’t afford it. Economic discrimination would be considerably decreased under this new Zero Bail Policy since lower-class residents would not have to be able to afford bail for non-harmful offenses and upper-class citizens would be released based on the danger of their crime committed rather than their wealth.
Prevents the transmission of COVID-19
People who cannot afford bail and must remain in prison cells until their court case can go back home without having to pay bail. This has several consequences. Even with a low bail, most criminals cannot pay and must be forced to remain in prison cells until their trial, which can take a month. Fortunately, this is not as serious as it could have been because everyone in California is guaranteed the right to a fast trial.
There is still time for COVID-19 to spread rapidly in cells. Coronavirus cases doubled every month in May, and infection rates increased by 73%. That was before the $0 Bail Policy was implemented, and the numbers are now decreasing due to this policy. Those unable to pay bail can be released, resulting in fewer cases and deaths overall.
Reduces jail overcrowding
Overcrowding in prisons is a major issue in many countries, but The US has one of the worst. Poverty, a lack of education or employment opportunities, substance abuse, mental illness rates, and racial disparities have all contributed to increased crime as more people turn to a life of crime. The United States spends $80 billion annually to keep 2.3 million convicts in jail/prison cells.
Approximately 80% of criminals detained in jails committed misdemeanors. That means that if the Zero Bail policy were fully implemented, jail populations would be reduced by 80%. Approximately half of the 2.3 million people in jail are being held in pretrial detention facilities. This means that approximately 920,000 people would be released from prison cells, and approximately 32 billion dollars would be saved on convicts in jail cells each year.
Importance of the Bail System
Bail is meant to ensure that a person accused of a crime doesn’t run away or miss court dates. The defendant must pay a certain amount as security until the case is over. But why is bail such a big part of the justice system? Here are some reasons why bail is important in every criminal case.
Innocent Until Proven Guilty
The presumption of innocence is the basic protection for everyone, whether they are innocent or guilty of a crime. Presumed innocence is at the heart of all criminal law, and it is important because the legal system’s job is to protect the innocent and keep the public safe, not to put as many people in jail as possible.
The term innocent until proven guilty is an important aspect of how a criminal case moves forward. When someone is arrested, they are not charged with a crime. They are held until their court cases for the crimes they are accused of. Therefore, keeping an innocent person in jail for a long time without a trial is wrong.
On the other hand, the assumption of innocence poses difficulties for the judiciary system. People who are liable but have not been convicted may use their time out of prison to flee the city or go into hiding. Individuals who have committed serious crimes may endanger others while they await trial.
This is where a convict needs bail services from a licensed bail bondsman. Judges can release anyone accused of crimes on the condition that they appear in court again for additional proceedings. Bail enables the legal system to uphold each person’s right to be presumed innocent unless proven guilty while safeguarding the interests of the general public.
Another important role of bail bond agents in the criminal justice system is reducing the taxpayer’s burden. It is expensive to keep all accused persons in state custody until a trial date can be set. A trial can take several months in areas with a lot of criminal activity.
According to current law, a judge may deny any bail, including online bail bonds, in public safety. There must be compelling evidence that releasing someone on bail won’t result in additional crimes that will harm the community. The following are examples of crimes that warrant denial:
1. Felonies in which the defendant has a prior record of two convictions.
2. Murder and other forms of violence.
3. Grave crimes against minors.
4. Drug offenses are punishable by more than a decade in prison.
However, being charged with the aforementioned crimes does not automatically mean that bail will be denied. Before waiving the right to bail, the judge carefully considers the situation, the type of arrest, the conditions, and the compiled proof. The judge might also offer bail advice to underprivileged convicts. It is critical to remember that people held without bail are not being punished before being convicted.
Release from Jail
The purpose of Bail bond companies is to secure jail release. No one likes spending time in jail. Therefore, hiring a bail bond service ensures that your loved ones do not spend a minute more than necessary there. Bail bond agencies work fast to get the payment you need and get you out of jail.
Implications of the $0 Bail System to the Society
The justice system has checks and balances to ensure that people are treated fairly. For instance, bail bonds review hearings where everyone can hear the set bail amount to ensure that bail isn’t too high and that a defendant’s special circumstances are considered. During these meetings, the judge looks at the evidence and decides whether to lower or raise the bail.
In 2019, California changed the rules about who stays in jail and who gets out while awaiting trial in a criminal case. With the passing of Senate Bill 10, the state became the first in the country to get rid of cash bonds. This happened in October 2019, and the new system put less emphasis on money and more on whether someone is a danger to public safety. In light of this, the Union-Tribune looked at the crimes people on bail in San Diego County committed. The District Attorney’s Office released the information from October 2011 to August 2018.
During that time, county prosecutors charged 4,149 persons with committing a new crime while on bond for a previous felony charge. In over 200 cases, the new charge involved some form of robbery. Another 253 incidents involved an assault with a dangerous weapon charge.
According to a Times Union study of newly disclosed state data, individuals freed were arrested again for suspected violent felony offenses roughly 4% of the time. While their first cases were pending, around 1% of those released were detained again on serious felony charges with firearms.
These are generally low percentages. Still, considering the enormous number of people released statewide, they equate to thousands of cases of people being freed from custody only to commit violent offenses shortly after.
Between July 2020 and June 2021, 3,460 individuals were arrested with violent felony counts, including 773 with a weapon, after being charged with offenses for which courts could no longer set bail bonds or keep the offender in jail. Assault, rape, and attempted murder are just a few examples of violent offenses.
According to the data, over one-third of the 98,145 cases in which persons were released on offenses for which they could no longer be detained in custody resulted in a new arrest while their previous cases were pending. The new charges were mainly misdemeanors and minor felonies.
According to the latest data, persons were re-arrested at roughly double the rate shown in earlier data in the summer of 2020. The adjustment represents those who were re-arrested in 2021 but prosecuted in 2020.
Several dozen Albany County cases reviewed by the Times Union revealed numerous occasions in which courts freed defendants without setting bond. The court often asked them to wear electronic bracelets to allow county probation officers to track their whereabouts.
In one example, a 33-year-old Albany man was frequently freed from detention or released on low emergency bail bonds despite breaking protective orders at least eight times in 2020.
The allegations against the man included breaking into the female victim’s home many times, busting out her front window, and physically attacking her. Police allege that he assaulted the girl with a pan in other incidents and choked her in another.
The decision to eliminate the bail system could significantly reduce pretrial incarceration in California, which is critical because pretrial detention may have disastrous implications for a person’s life. It frequently entails the loss of a job or one’s home. It can result in the loss of custody of children and significant detrimental consequences for a person’s case. Because bail bonds disproportionately affect the majority and minorities, the negative consequences affect those groups. Reduced pretrial detention greatly impacts racial justice and the end of mass imprisonment.
Abolition of the bail bonds system has numerous advantages. However, if an individual commits a crime and gets released on $0 bail, they are more likely to commit another crime. An increase in the number of criminals on our streets could pose a safety risk and cause alarm for many people.