By Shaun Rundle, Legislative & Region Affairs Representative.
One bill in the California Legislature that gained much media attention recently, was SB 10 by Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys). It proposed several changes to the bail system in the state, most of which were opposed by CPOA and California law enforcement. The bail reform issue was in fact so popular that a free concert was held in Sacramento drawing attention to SB 10, as well as rallies at the Capitol. Facing mounting opposition, however, Governor Brown and Senator Hertzberg have decided the put SB 10 on hold until 2018 so that more discussions can occur. CPOA has, and will weigh in with our continued concerns.
At its core, SB 10 revises the pretrial release system by limiting pretrial detention to specified persons, eliminating the use of bail schedules, and establishing pretrial services agencies tasked with conducting risk assessments on arrested person and preparing reports with recommendations for conditions of release. Additionally, the bill states that if a person is arrested because of a warrant issued in another county, a judge in the county of arrest can release the detainee, subject to a release agreement.
With regards to pretrial services, SB 10 requires each county to establish a pretrial services agency that will be responsible for gathering information about newly arrested persons, conducting pretrial risk assessments, preparing individually tailored recommendations to the court, and providing pretrial services and supervision to persons on pretrial release.
CPOA has lobbied in opposition to this bill, citing these public safety concerns:
- We’re not sure SB 10 establishes a reasonable determination of who should be released pretrial. If SB 10 gets signed by the Governor, it will likely set the stage for how California would use the grants provided under Senator Harris’s federal proposal for bail reform.
- Pretrial Services Agency in the county could require the pre-arraignment release of a person charged with a misdemeanor without providing the opportunity for a judge to determine whether the defendant is a risk to the victim or public safety.
- Courts already have the discretion to release a defendant on their own recognizance, or to reduce bail as they see fit for defendants who do not pose such risks.
- Without bail agents, local LE agencies will have limited to no resources to have to find FTA’s.
SB 10 may also have more local implementation costs than the author and supporters anticipated, so Governor Brown urged more time to consider negotiations from all parties. The bill will likely be next acted upon when the Legislature returns in January for the second year of the 2017-18 legislative session.
A CPOA Fact Sheet on Bail Reform can be found here.