Governor Signs SB 10 to End Money Bail in California!
With the signing of SB 10, that I authored with my colleague Senator Bob Hertzberg, California has taken a transformational step forward to correct a fundamental injustice. Abolishing the predatory money bail system and replacing it with a risk-based system that will enhance justice and safety.
For too long, our system has allowed the wealthy to purchase their freedom regardless of their risk, while the poor who pose no danger languish in jail.
Freedom and liberty should never be pay to play.
I want to thank Governor Brown for never wavering in his decades-long desire to fix this flawed system.
SB 10 will go even further than the prior version: It completely abolishes the broken, unsafe, unfair, for-profit, predatory money bail system in California.
Many progressive justice organizations stood with us to support this critical change and we thank them for their partnership and bold leadership.
- Western Center on Law and Poverty
- Californians for Safety and Justice
- Anti-Recidivism Coalition
- SEIU California
Here’s what SB 10 will do:
Under SB 10, individuals charged with crimes no longer need to “buy” freedom through a bail bond and are no longer pressured to plea to crimes they didn’t commit to secure release they cannot afford. No longer will they unnecessarily languish in jail—posing no risk to the public or of failing to appear—and lose their jobs, their homes, their cars, or their kids, simply because they are not wealthy enough to secure bail. No longer will they go into debt or be unable to pay their bills because they had to pay the non-refundable bail amount (averaging $5,000 in California) to the bail bondsmen.
Depending on an individual’s risk level, they must be assessed and released either pre-arraignment by pretrial services staff or at an arraignment hearing by a judge. Under SB 10, individuals charged with misdemeanors (with exceptions for domestic violence, stalking, and other serious factors) are booked and released within 12 hours of booking.
Others will be treated as individuals and receive a personalized risk-assessment unique to them to determine the least restrictive non-monetary conditions to assure for their safe release into the community and future court appearances, and “shall” be safely released under these conditions. In most cases, individuals will never go before a judge as they will be released by a pretrial services officer.
Only a limited number of individuals can be detained pretrial and only when a prosecutor brings a motion for detention (a judge cannot independently order pretrial detention absent this motion) and a judge—after a full hearing in which the individual is represented by counsel and is able to make a statement and present facts and arguments in support of their release—finds by clear and convincing evidence that no nonmonetary condition or combination of conditions of pretrial supervision will reasonably assure public safety or the individual’s appearance in court and the judge articulates the reasons on the record (a decision which can be rapidly appealed), can an individual be detained.
The Judicial Council estimates that at least 120,000 more Californians per year will be safely released under this approach, than under the current broken money bail system.
Individuals will not pay for any conditions of their release-- the financial burden on individuals is completely removed.
SB 10 includes strong safeguards against racial or other biases.
- Courts must provide data to the Judicial Council related to the implementation of the law.
- In 2023, an independent evaluation of the reform will be conducted by a panel of experts, with particular focus on racial or other biases that may remain despite the reform.
I’m proud that we were able to seize this critical opportunity to correct an institutional injustice in our criminal justice system that disproportionately hurts the poor and communities of color.
In conclusion, SB 10 now makes California the first state in the nation to end the predatory money bail system and replace it with a fairer, risk-based system that no longer ties someone’s wealth to their freedom.
My colleague, friend and partner Senator Bob Hertzberg and I are committed to ensuring that this historic reform will be implemented with justice and fairness for all people.
Thank you for reading this message and for your continued support as we, together, fight to advance Our California Values of Justice, Inclusion, Equity and Opportunity!