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Daily Action: Support Bail Reform in CA

Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin

(916) 319-2044 (Sacramento)
(805) 482-1904 (Camarillo)
(805) 483-4488 (Oxnard)
Assemblyman Dante Acosta:
(916) 319-2038 (Sacramento)
(661) 286-1565 (Santa Clarita)

(Short Script:
Hello! My name is _______, and I am a constituent of Assemblymember _____________'s in ____________, California. I'm calling to urge her/him to support SB 10, the California Money Bail Reform Act. Our system of imposing bail is broken -- it allows wealthy defendants to be released even if they pose a threat to the public, while poorer defendants who pose no threat remain locked up. This system makes us less safe; in fact, it jeopardizes our safety by causing people to lose their jobs, housing and stability. It also costs us taxpayers far more to keep accused persons locked up even when they pose no threat to public safety, rather than allowing them to live their lives while awaiting trial. SB 10 would enable California to follow the example of other states that now use risk assessment, rather than monetary demands, to determine whether a person should be released. Thank you!

SB 10, the California Money Bail Reform Act, passed the state senate last June but has been languishing since then in the Assembly's appropriations committee. Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, who represents most of the Conejo Valley, voted against a similar bill last spring, though she now says she supports SB 10. Simi Valley's Republican assemblymember, Dante Acosta, does not support it. Pressure to act on reform increased in January when California's First District Court of Appeal ruled that defendants’ 14th Amendment rights are violated when they are detained before trial without critical due process protections. The decision cast doubt on the constitutionality of money bail.

California’s bail system doesn't promote public safety. Instead, it rewards those who can afford to pay for their freedom, while punishing other accused persons for being poor. California currently spends more than $4.5 million per day to incarcerate people who have not been convicted of a crime, at a daily cost per inmate over $100. That's 10 times more expensive than supervising a pretrial defendant in the community.

SB 10 would require counties to set up a data-driven system that reviews suspects and their likely public safety risk after they've been arrested, then provides courts with recommendations about appropriate terms of release for each person detained. The legislation directs courts to base their release decisions on whether someone is likely to commit further offenses or fail to show up for trial. In most cases, the ability to post bail would not be a condition for release. Other conditions can be imposed, of course -- including check-ins with probation officers, or the use of electronic monitors such as ankle bracelets. People charged with violent crimes, as well as likely flight risks, wouldn’t qualify.

Such programs have already been implemented in communities across the state; Santa Clara County has saved more than $60 million since 2013 by supervising many defendants in the community, with no significant detriment to public safety. Bail reform also would help ensure that people convicted of the most serious and violent crimes are not released early due to prison overcrowding.