California Gov. Brown Signs Legislation Eliminating Money Bail System

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Photo Credit: Ryan Grant, California Department of Tax and Fee Administration

California become the first state in the nation to abolish the money bail system under a legislation signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday.

SB 10, the California Money Reform Bail Act, establishes an individualized risk-based system for determining the pre-trial release of defendants.

Under the law, the custody status of defendants awaiting trial will be based on an assessment of risk to public safety, probability of not showing up in court and other factors. The defendants’ ability to pay money bail will no longer be the basis for their temporary release.

“Today, California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly,” Brown said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom commented that “California has opened the door to pursue and perfect a just pre-trial system.”

A Transformative Solution for Californians

California State Sen. Robert Hertzberg, co-author of the new law, commented, “This is a transformative day for our justice system. Our old system of money bail was outdated, unsafe and unfair.”

In addition, he said the three branches of the state government worked together to “bring about a fair and just solution for all Californians.”

Furthermore, Hertzberg stressed that “California will continue to lead the way toward a safer and more equitable” criminal justice system.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta, co-author of SB 10, said “Today, California takes a transformational step forward to correct a fundamental injustice. Abolishing money bail and replacing it with a risk-based system will enhance justice and safety.”

“For too long, our system has allowed the wealthy to purchase their freedom regardless of their risk, while the poor who pose no danger languish in jail. No more. Freedom and liberty should never be pay to play,” he added.

A number of criminal justice reform advocates, elected officials, labor groups and probation officers support SB 10.

The California State Senate and Assembly passed SB 10 on a 26-12 vote and 42-31 vote, respectively, last week.