The new “no-bail” schedule will go into effect for all police departments in Los Angeles County on October 1.
Bail had been based on a predetermined schedule according to the type of charge, not the person’s ability to pay. If a person couldn’t afford bail or a bail bondsman, they would be held in a substation or sent to the county jail.
With the new law, when a person commits a crime, they will either be: 1) cited and released at the location of the arrest; 2) arrested and booked in jail and then released or 3) select cases will be referred to an on-call magistrate.
Felony cases will still require bail, as will some misdemeanor cases such as domestic battery, violation of a protective order, and stalking.
The L.A. Times in a September 24 Editorial (“Goodbye to Cash Bail. L.A. is Moving to a Better Approach to Pretrial Justice”) wrote that no-bail would give “L.A. a safer and more just approach to the pretrial process.
“Police will issue citations on the street or at the station to suspects accused of lower-level crimes, then release them with instructions to appear in court for their first hearing several days later.
“Those accused of more serious crimes will be held at the station while magistrates — working remotely, without seeing or hearing from the defendants or prosecutors — review their records and decide whether to send them to jail to wait for their hearings or release them with any of a variety of conditions that don’t include money bail.”
The Times noted that with the recent retail thefts, that some police and prosecutors are demanding higher bail and more jail time, but this new system, “Pre-Arraignment Release Protocol, or PARP — moves in the other direction and is bound to be controversial.”
In an earlier editorial the Times had written that zero bail is “a strong step toward justice and improved public safety, and away from ignorance and fear. L.A. residents should embrace it.”
Advocates for no bail say that the system has been unfair to people who do not have money, which means they might be able to go to work or look after children.
Those same advocates imply that poor people and people of color commit crimes because they have to in order to survive.
That is an insult to people who grow up in poverty or to people of color. Instead, statistics show that about 85 percent of youths in prison come from fatherless homes and 71 percent of high school dropouts come from homes without fathers.
Los Angeles residents thought no-bail had been decided in 2020. About 56 percent of Californians rejected Proposition 25, which would have abolished cash bail.
With Proposition 25’s defeat that year, California State Senator Scott Wiener said, “Money bail is classist and racist — no one should ever be held in jail or released based on how much money they have. We cannot give up this fight, and we won’t give up.”
Is there evidence that no bail improves public safety?”
There haven’t been a lot of studies done. In February the California Globe (“Data Indicate that Zero Bail Results in More Crime”) reported that the 2019 data released by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services showed 166 of the non-monetary release (no bail) participants got re-arrested each month. In 2021, the number soared to 445 re-arrests a month, including more than 300 felonies each month. That was over 2-1⁄2 times more rearrests per month.
In a February 20, 2023, CBS News report (“Does Zero Bail Work?”), a study from the Yolo County DA’s Office showed that 70 percent of suspects released on zero-dollar bail reoffended.
They “were twice as likely to be rearrested for felonies and three times as likely to be rearrested for violent crimes compared to those who had to post bail.”
The study compared a random sample of 100 suspects released on zero-dollar bail between 2020 and 2021, when the pandemic policy was in effect, to 100 suspects who did have to post bail in 2018 and 2019.
“The study found suspects released on zero-dollar bail were far more likely to be rearrested, nearly twice as likely to be rearrested for new felonies, and nearly three times as likely to be rearrested for violent crimes.”
“We would conclude the results have a very strong statistical significance, said Matt Mitchell, Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at American River College.
In a February California Globe story (“Data Indicate That Zero Bail Results in More Crime”), former Los Angeles policeman Henry Chaves was quoted.
“Bail was there for a reason,” he said. “These people committed the crimes and did the time for them. They had a debt to society; Bail was there to help ensure that they wouldn’t miss their court date. It’s not a fine and it’s not a punishment. It’s there to ensure people face justice. If we can’t hold you until your date in court, then we hold money to ensure you go. That simple.
“Now we’re on the honor system, which will lead to a lot of problems. Don’t get me wrong. The bail system has problems too, and affordability for those more lower-income is a legitimate issue. But zero bail isn’t a solution. It’s inviting people to think that crimes don’t come with larger consequences now.”