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AB-42 Bail reform.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 02/14/2017 09:00 PM
AB42:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  February 14, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 42


Introduced by Assembly Members Bonta, Bloom, Chiu, Jones-Sawyer, Quirk, and Mark Stone
(Principal coauthors: Senators Hertzberg, Allen, Mitchell, and Wiener)
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Eggman)

December 05, 2016


An act to amend Section 1270 of the Penal Code, relating to bail.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 42, as amended, Bonta. Bail reform.
Existing law provides for the procedure of approving and accepting bail, and issuing an order for the appearance and release of an arrested person. Existing law requires that bail be set in a fixed amount, as specified, and requires, in setting, reducing, or denying bail, a judge or magistrate to take into consideration the protection of the public, the seriousness of the offense charged, the previous criminal record of the defendant, and the probability of his or her appearing at trial or at a hearing of the case. Existing law entitles a defendant being held for a misdemeanor offense to be released on his or her own recognizance, unless the court makes a finding on the record that his or her release would compromise public safety or would not reasonably ensure the appearance of the defendant as required.
This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to safely reduce the number of people detained pretrial, while addressing racial and economic disparities in the pretrial system, to ensure that people are not held in pretrial detention simply because of their inability to afford money bail. The bill would also require the court to release a defendant being held for a misdemeanor offense on his or her own recognizance unless the court makes an additional finding on the record that there is no condition or combination of conditions that would reasonably ensure public safety and the appearance of the defendant if the defendant is released.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Modernization of the pretrial system is urgently needed in California, where thousands of individuals held in county jails across the state have not been convicted of a crime and are detained while awaiting trial simply because they cannot afford to post money bail or pay a commercial bail bond company. In 2015, 63% 63 percent of people in California jails were either awaiting trial or sentencing. As compared with the rest of the country, California has relied on pretrial detention at much higher rates than other states.
(b) California’s existing pretrial detention practices allow a person’s wealth rather than the person’s likelihood of success on pretrial release to determine whether the person will remain in jail before the person’s case is resolved. Detaining people simply due to an inability to afford money bail violates the American principles of equal protection and fundamental fairness. Nationwide, the majority of people who are unable to meet money bail fall within the poorest one-third of society.
(c) The consequences of pretrial detention—which include greater likelihood of innocent people pleading guilty to a crime, longer sentences upon conviction, loss of employment, income, and housing, and traumatic family disruption—disproportionately affect people of color and low-income people.
(d) The commercial money bail system, which requires people to pay nonrefundable deposits to private companies in order to secure release from jail, often leaves people in debt and drives them and their families further into poverty. The commercial money bail system does not improve rates of appearance in court or enhance public safety.
(e) California should follow the lead of the federal government and jurisdictions across the country that have stopped making wealth-based decisions on pretrial detention and instead have shifted to a system that evaluates whether an individual can be safely returned to the community as well as make required court appearances, and, if so, under what conditions.
(f) It is far more expensive to house a person in jail than to safely release him or her pending trial with conditions of release or pretrial supervision.
(g) While unnecessary pretrial detention has been found to increase the likelihood that some defendants will commit new crimes, appropriate pretrial release can reduce recidivism.
(h) Pretrial services programs have already been successfully implemented in many California jurisdictions, and have helped to reduce pretrial jail populations, save money, increase rates of appearance in court, and protect the public.
(i) Increasing the use of evidence-based practices in pretrial decisions will provide judges, law enforcement agencies, and pretrial service providers with additional tools to both assist them in assessing a defendant’s likelihood of success on pretrial release and to identify and meet the needs of those defendants and the community to assure constitutional and statutory objectives.
(j) Modernizing pretrial practices will support the goals of the Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011 by providing additional options to manage pretrial populations using best practices developed over many years across many jurisdictions.

SEC. 2.

 It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to safely reduce the number of people detained pretrial, while addressing racial and economic disparities in the pretrial system, to ensure that people are not held in pretrial detention simply because of their inability to afford money bail.

SEC. 3.

 Section 1270 of the Penal Code is amended to read:

1270.
 (a) Any A person who has been arrested for, or charged with, an offense other than a capital offense may be released on his or her own recognizance by a court or magistrate who could release a defendant from custody upon the defendant giving monetary bail, including a defendant arrested upon an out-of-county warrant. A defendant who is in custody and is arraigned on a complaint alleging an offense which is a misdemeanor, and a defendant who appears before a court or magistrate upon an out-of-county warrant arising out of a case involving only misdemeanors, shall be entitled to an own recognizance release unless the court makes a finding on the record, record that there is no condition or combination of conditions that would reasonably ensure public safety and the appearance of the defendant as required, and that, in accordance with Section 1275, that an own recognizance release will compromise public safety or will not reasonably assure ensure the appearance of the defendant as required. Public safety shall be the primary consideration. If the court makes one of those findings, the court shall then set monetary bail and specify the conditions, if any, whereunder the defendant shall be released.
(b) Article 9 (commencing with Section 1318) shall apply to any person who is released pursuant to this section.