California’s chief justice gives bail reform a boost


By SUDHIN THANAWALA | Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Efforts to do away with cash bail in California received a big boost when the state’s top judge got behind a proposal to end what critics say is a system that keeps poor people behind bars while wealthier suspects can pay for their freedom.

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California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye (ta-NEE’ kahn-TEEL sah-kah-OO-weh) said Tuesday that instead of cash bail, the state should rely on assessments of defendants’ danger to the public to determine whether they should be released.

The proposal endorsed by Cantil-Sakauye is contained in a report by a group of judges that concluded the state’s cash bail system “unnecessarily compromises victim and public safety” and “exacerbates socioeconomic disparities and racial bias.”

It would require legislative approval to go into law, and Cantil-Sakauye, appointed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said the report should serve as a framework for discussions with Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature.

“I support the conclusion that California’s current pretrial system unnecessarily compromises victim and public safety,” she said in a statement.

The proposal is likely to face opposition from the bail industry. Similar bail reform measures approved in New Jersey and New Mexico have faced lawsuits.

Supporters of cash bail say it ensures people show up to court because they forfeit their money if they fail to appear.

Jeff Clayton, executive director of the bail industry trade group, the American Bail Coalition, said states that have tried similar measures have seen …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

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