L.A. County courts to severely restrict use of money bail

Nabil Anas
Nabil Anas

International Courant

Los Angeles County’s courts will dramatically cut back using money bail in all however essentially the most severe felony instances later this yr, in line with new bail insurance policies unveiled Tuesday.

As of Oct. 1, just about all defendants accused of misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies in L.A. County will both be cited and launched or freed on sure phrases and circumstances after judicial evaluation inside 24 hours of arrest, in line with L.A. County Presiding Choose Samantha Jessner.

“An individual’s means to pay a big sum of cash shouldn’t be the figuring out consider deciding whether or not that particular person, who’s presumed harmless, stays in jail earlier than trial or is launched,” Jessner stated in an announcement. “Any dedication of an arrestee’s standing after arrest however earlier than being charged ought to be primarily based on an individualized dedication of threat and chance to return to court docket. A low-risk arrestee shouldn’t be held in jail just because they can not submit the required funds to be launched pending arraignment.”

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The choice comes roughly two months after Choose Lawrence Riff granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit aimed toward ending using money bail to carry folks in jails operated by the Los Angeles police and sheriff’s departments. A number of of the plaintiffs in that swimsuit have been held in Males’s Central Jail, the traditional holding facility in downtown L.A. the place many defendants await trial in abysmal circumstances. Since January, 22 prisoners have died within the jail, together with a minimum of two deaths by suicide.

Money bail has been a controversial subject in Los Angeles and across the nation lately, with felony justice reform advocates typically arguing for pretrial launch to be depending on a person’s felony historical past and private scenario versus an arbitrary greenback quantity. After L.A. County instituted a zero-bail coverage for a lot of offenses throughout the pandemic with the intention to decrease the populations of prisons and jails, some police officers argued these insurance policies led to will increase in recidivism and crime. However a report back to the Board of Supervisors final yr confirmed re-arrest and failure to look charges remained comparatively static throughout the time the zero-bail coverage was in place.

Below the brand new misdemeanor schedule, nearly all defendants will both be cited and launched, or freed with out bail after their case is reviewed by a choose, who can institute different nonfinancial circumstances of launch resembling digital monitoring or residence supervision by probation officers.

A choose will probably be out there to make these determinations in any respect hours, seven days every week, Jessner stated. Defendants arrested whereas out on parole or whereas free on pretrial launch phrases is not going to be eligible to be cited and launched a second time, and would as a substitute face judicial evaluation, in line with Jessner.

The few misdemeanor offenses that can nonetheless require money bail for launch embody stalking, home battery and violation of a protecting order, in line with the brand new schedule.

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Defendants accused of homicide, manslaughter, rape and most varieties of assault will nonetheless face hefty money bail quantities, in line with the court docket. Felonies together with human trafficking, battery on a peace officer and intercourse with a minor will set off a judicial evaluation, in line with the brand new schedule.

Jessner stated she hoped the revised bail schedule would guarantee defendants return to court docket with out the necessity to place them within the county’s crumbling jails, the place defendants are sometimes injured or lose job alternatives whereas detained.

“For low-risk attendees pretrial launch choices which might be primarily based on threat and an individualized dedication enhance public and sufferer security and make sure the look of an arrestee at court docket and trial,” she stated.

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L.A. County courts to severely restrict use of money bail

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