Let’s all put our hands together and give a warm round of applause to the state of California and its ability to never cease to amaze and amuse us. In its newest liberal scheme, local and state lawmakers thought it a good idea to give alleged criminals a cue from Mr. Moneybags himself with a get out of jail free card by doing away with bail requirements. Way to go Golden State!
“Today, California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly,” said Governor Jerry Brown in a statement.
That is the hope, but is it reality?
No Bail, No Jail
The idea behind Senate Bill 10 is to bring about equality for criminals, despite their income or financial worth. Advocates of the bill say no one should be kept in jail simply because they don’t have the money to achieve bail. Two people from different financial spectrums arrested for the same crime are not treated equally under current regulations. It is not fair, they say, that just because one can afford bail he can be released while another who is poor will have to endure waiting in jail.
Under the new bill which, takes effect October 2019, bail will no longer be an option. Authorities will have 12 hours to decide whether the accused should be released on their own recognizance or detained until a verdict has been handed down. It should be noted here that this only applies to non-violent crimes.
Alleged criminals will be judged on an individual basis as to whether they will remain behind bars or released until their court date. It will be up to the judge to decide the matter, including other alternatives, such as house arrest anklets.
The Dangerous Injustice
The dangerous slope here is that everything will be left up to the individual courts, judges and an algorithm created to help choose those who should remain in custody and those who should be released. Can’t you just see the tangled web being woven right now?
Challengers of the bill bring up a valid point when talking about illegal immigrants with this new system. Since California is a sanctuary state, more and more illegal aliens are flooding the area. Local law enforcement officers are prohibited from aiding federal agents in immigration control efforts. In fact, they are not even allowed to inform ICE when they release an illegal alien criminal from prison. The state already had one of the largest illegal immigrant populations in the nation, and with the new sanctuary status, those numbers are only climbing. This means there will be more arrests of illegals made, whether for minor infractions or more serious crimes.
So, how are the courts going to decide these cases? Will illegals be set free because they wouldn’t have been able to afford bail, and trusted to return to court for their hearing?
There are also concerns of racial profiling. With so much power being given to local judges, the potential for prejudice of all kinds is quite high. An accused used to be secure in the thought that they could go to court, get a set bail amount and either contact a bail bonds company to secure release, or sit out the time in jail before their hearing. They were prepared and knew basically what to expect. There were rules, set monetary amounts for bail attributed to specific crimes. Now, however, that little safety net has been yanked out beneath their feet and a person’s fate becomes reliant upon the judge of the day.
Too much power is being given to these judges and individual courts. Illegal immigrants who should be held simply because they are here illegally and are a serious flight risk could be released without a care – likely never to be seen again, at least in court. Car thieves could be set free in the neighborhoods to steal more vehicles while a shoplifter could be held in custody until trial. It all comes down to the judge’s decision and an algorithm.
Perhaps getting rid of a system that allows the rich to go home because they can afford bail while the poor suffer in a jail cell is a good thing. But then, perhaps not doing the crime in the first place is an even better thing.