California Courts End $0 Emergency Bail Policy
The California Judicial Council voted Wednesday to end a policy setting the baseline bail at $0 for people accused of nonviolent crimes.
According to the Council, that practice kept 20,000 people out of jail during the pandemic. But the statewide policy will now end on June 20.
To help keep jail populations down, the Council noted, state prisons will begin allowing transfers from local facilities by June 19.
But that could present its own set of problems. California prisons have already been the site of over 3,000 confirmed coronavirus cases. Some of that spread has been linked to transfers of incarcerated people between state facilities.
And the state Department of Public Health says prisons and local jails are a factor behind recent coronavirus spread in at least four California counties.
Still, the Council’s decision to bring back cash bail received praise from law enforcement leaders. But Bay Area public defenders and community groups criticized the move, arguing reduced bail caused no significant increase in crime.
Voters will get their say on the bail policy debate in November. A measure to replace the current cash bail system with case-by-case risk assessment will be on the ballot.