Bonta Demands Bail Reform

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

“California’s bail system punishes poor people for being poor”

(OAKLAND, CA) –Yesterday, Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and the Select Committee on Boys and Men of Color took action to reform California’s bail system and demanded changes to the system that disproportionately impacts boys and men of color and people living in poverty.

Over 60% of California’s jail population – or about 46,000 people – are sitting in jail and have not been convicted of a crime. They are legally innocent and only in jail because they were unable to afford money bail. Further, Californians pay over $100 per day to keep someone in jail – more than $4.5 million per day statewide at taxpayer expense.

Bonta was joined by Senator Hancock, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, community leaders, advocates, and affected individuals.

Statement from Assemblymember Rob Bonta: 

Bail reform is a racial, social, and economic justice issue in California.

Our broken bail system values wealth over public safety in determining who will be jailed before trial and who will be set free. The system doesn’t improve public safety or reduce flight risk—which have long been justifications for its existence. If you are poor and can’t pay bail, you will sit in jail, even if your violation is something as minor as a traffic ticket and you're not a risk to public safety or a flight risk. If you have the money to pay your cash bail, you can get out, no matter how likely you are to flee or reoffend.

Holding people in jail before trial is creating a downward spiral for the detained leading to loss of jobs, housing, and devastating impacts on families and communities, particularly for those in poverty. States that have ended money bail have found other, more effective means to ensure the defendant shows up and to protect the safety of the public.

The system is broken. I am committed to transforming the bail system through smart, fair, and comprehensive reforms.

It’s not a question of ‘if', it’s a question of ‘how’.

Additional panelists included: San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, Eve Hershcopf with the Judicial Council of California, Santa Clara University School of Law Professor David Ball, Zachary Norris, Executive Director with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Jessica Bartholow, Policy Advocate with Western Center on Law and Poverty, Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, Criminal Justice & Drug Policy Director with the ACLU of California, Melodie Henderson, who delivered personal testimony, John Jones, III, with Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, and Chuck Denton, with the Alameda County Office of the Public Defender.

View the full hearing here:
Bonta Calls for Reforms to California's Unfair Bail System

Assemblymember Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro. Bonta Chairs the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee and the Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color. He is also a member of the following committees: Appropriations, Budget, Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services, Government Organization, Joint Legislative Budget, and Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management.