Capitol Beat – Law Enforcement on the Front Lines Against Cashless Bail

Aaron Read and Randy Perry
Legislative Advocates
Aaron Read & Associates, LLC

The intensity on the California State Assembly floor on the evening of June 1 was elevated as the highly debated bail reform bill AB 42 — authored by Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) and sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Californians for Safety and Justice, and California Public Defenders Association, among others — was deliberated. In the weeks leading up to the hearing, PORAC teamed up with other law enforcement organizations and crime victim organizations to shed light on the immediate dangers of the proposed “cashless bail” system. Earlier in the week, AB 42’s identical legislation, SB 10, authored by Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), passed on the Senate floor 26–11 with three members abstaining. However, more moderate ideas prevailed later in the day. Assembly Member Bonta’s AB 42 did not move out of the Assembly.

Last year, Senator Mark Leno introduced SB 1286, which would have had an immense impact on our officers, yet we were never asked to be part of the discussion. When it comes to the future of bail reform, PORAC is committed to being a significant contributor in assuring that the legislation adheres to the priorities of law enforcement and strengthens the security of our officers. In matters of public safety, law enforcement deserves to be included in the conversation. There can be no argument that when criminals are released from jail or prison, there is an immediate risk to the safety of our families.

Senator Hertzberg’s bill (SB 10) is now awaiting policy committee assignment in the Assembly. PORAC will sit down with the Senator for genuine discourse on the bill and, if possible, offer amendments. If we cannot reach an agreement, we will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners and protect our communities from the harmful policy contained in SB 10.

SB 10 specifies that a person may be detained pretrial, after a detention hearing, if the court makes one of the following findings, which are consistent with the California Constitution:

  • The defendant has been charged with a capital crime and the facts are evident or the presumption great
  • The defendant has been charged with a felony offense involving an act of violence on another person, or a felony sexual assault offense on another person, the facts are evident or the presumption great, and the court finds based upon clear and convincing evidence that there is a substantial likelihood the person’s release would result in great bodily harm to another person or persons
  • The defendant has been charged with a felony offense, the facts are evident or the presumption great, and the court finds based on clear and convincing evidence that the person has threatened another with great bodily harm in the charged case and that there is a substantial likelihood that the person would carry out the threat if released

In existing law, the bail process promises to make public safety the primary consideration. PORAC understands that the bail system needs to be reviewed. We also believe that risk assessment programs are important tools when considering the release of an arrestee. However, eliminating the bail system in exchange for a risk assessment program alone is not the answer. If reasonable minds prevail, there are possible amendments that will protect the safety of our communities, while allowing those who are unfairly incarcerated to be free.