The California bail bond industry has a history that is rich in attempted reform. Most recently, in December of 2016, Senator Bob Hertzberg and more than 10 other senators proposed a measure that would completely overhaul the money bail system as it currently exists in our state. Senate Bill 10, also known as The California Money Bail Reform Act of 2017, is currently an active bill in committee process with intentions of being reviewed again in the spring of 2018. In today’s blog, we’ll review some details specific to this legislation to help you better understand how it may impact the bail industry.
At Future Bail Bonds, we pride ourselves on keeping current with the latest news and legislative actions that are related to our industry. We want to do everything we can to ensure the bail bond services we provide our customers are innovative, ethical, and legal. If you’d like to speak with us about our services, or if you have questions about the current California bail reform measures, please call us! We’d love to speak with you.
California Bail and Prison Facts
Politically speaking, California is an overwhelmingly liberal state. Many, including Senator Hertzberg, argue that this has lead to the demise of the system that governs the bail bond industry. Here are a few facts to help put this issue into context for us:
- According to a July 2015 report by the Public Policy Institute of California, more than 60 percent of the county jail population in our state were awaiting either sentencing or trial.
- Based on a report in 2015 from the California Attorney General, roughly 33 percent of people charged with a felon were never convicted of the offense.
- California arrestees are less likely to appear for their scheduled court dates than those in the rest of the country.
Regardless which side of the fence you land on with regard to this issue, it seems clear that there are some issues related to the California punitive system that need to be ironed out.
The California Money Bail Reform Act of 2017
So, what exactly is Senate Bill 10 and what does it propose? Let’s take a deeper look at the California Money Bail Reform Act.
Many proponents of this legislation, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California, feel that the current bail system isn’t fair for all of those who are arrested in our state. California currently employs a bail fee schedule that was developed many years ago, and many proponents of the bill feel that this fee schedule has created a tiered justice system in our state, creating a particularly wide division between those who can afford to post bail and those who cannot.
For example, the ACLU may argue that it is likely that most, if not all, of the 60 percent of inmates waiting for trial or sentencing that we noted earlier stayed in jail because they were unable to post bail. Furthermore, those that remain in jail may not even be convicted of their charges in the end, according to statistic. The argument then becomes two-fold: not only is California bail reform necessary to ensure everyone has equal opportunity for pretrial release, but also because of the unnecessary burden this presents for our jail systems.
The proponents of Senate Bill 10 feel that the legislation is essential to ensuring that both rich and poor are granted the same opportunities for pre-trial release. Many have expressed that the current bail regulations promote racism and classism while padding the pockets of those in the bail bond industry, including the Department of Insurance that regulates the industry. Opponents to the Bill argue that there must be some means of regulating pretrial releases that doesn’t involve a complete transfer of decision making power to a judge. Not only does the potential for bias creep in, but courthouse officials who are already overburdened will face yet another task.
The Proposed Solution
Now that we know the crux of the reform debate, let’s take a look at what exactly Senate Bill 10 proposes. The Bill proposes to safely reduce the amount of people detained before their trial while also addressing the apparent racial and economic disparities that seem to be innate to current system. In short, the goal of the legislation is to ensure that people are not kept in jail simply because of their inability to afford the set bail amount. If passed at the state level, this would impose additional duties on all local agencies, which would require a state-mandated program of sorts.
Additionally, it seeks to essentially do away with the standard money bail fee schedule, only relying on it when necessary to ensure the accused returns for his or her court date. In its place would be pretrial risk assessments performed by a judge to help determine what sort of risk a person poses to society and whether or not he or she poses a significant flight risk. In short, it places much more responsibility on the judicial system to aid in the pretrial release process for those arrested in the state.
So, what is the current disposition of the legislation? The Bill was last amended on August 21, 2017 and went before the Assembly, where it was successfully passed. However, on August 25, it was announced that the Bill would not be reviewed again until sometime in 2018. In the meantime, the Bill’s sponsors have plans to work with the governor up until that time. For those of us watching this piece of legislation, we’ll have to be patient as it sits in committee process for the upcoming months.
Quality Bail Bonds in San Bernardino
Here at Future Bail Bonds, our mission is to provide transparent, ethical, and affordable bail bonds to the people of the San Bernardino area. While current California bail reform legislation may give the impression that those in our industry only care about the bottom line, this is not the case with our company. Our passion is reuniting families and loved ones, and we do it each and every day when we help people secure efficient pretrial release from jail.
To learn more about our company and our bail bond services, call us at 909-990-5700!