CalWatchdog Morning Read – December 6

by CalWatchdog Staff | December 6, 2016 9:45 am

Good morning! The Legislature was back briefly on Monday – swearing in and talking Trump. Legislators also took little time to start pumping out policy proposals, setting the tone.

At a press conference in the Capitol on Monday morning[1], California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom explained that although he has long championed various reforms to the state’s criminal-justice system, he had in the past rarely even thought about the “money bail” system by which criminal defendants are released from jail after posting a bond.

Indeed, the system is so ubiquitous – bail-bonds offices cluster around courthouses – that it’s just an accepted part of the system. Yet that could all be changing. As Calwatchdog reported last month[2], reforming the state’s bail system will be a top priority as legislators return to the Capitol. Sure enough, the press conference was held shortly before the new session came to order and included several prominent Democratic legislators.

After an arrest, a judge will typically set a bail amount based on the seriousness of the alleged crime and on the defendant’s perceived flight risk. The defendant can post the full amount or pay a bondsman 10 percent of the bail, which is nonrefundable. The bail company assumes the financial risk if the defendant is a “no show.” The bond is meant to provide a strong financial incentive for the defendant to show up at the appointed court date.

But Newsom and the assembled legislators argued that the current system is antiquated and unfair – the “modern equivalent of debtors’ prison,” as sponsors of a reform bill put it. … And the converse is true, supporters say: Those who are poor but pose little danger or flight risk must stay in jail until the wheels of justice turn.

CalWatchdog[3] has more. 

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  1. At a press conference in the Capitol on Monday morning:
  2. As Calwatchdog reported last month:
  3. CalWatchdog:
  4. Politico:
  5. The San Jose Mercury News:
  6. The Orange County Register:
  7. The Sacramento Bee:

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