California Constitution Article 1 – Declaration of Rights
(e) Public Safety Bail. A person may be released on bail by sufficient sureties, except for capital crimes when the facts are evident or the presumption great. Excessive bail may not be required. In setting, reducing or denying bail, the judge or magistrate shall take into consideration the protection of the public, the seriousness of the offense charged, the previous criminal record of the defendant, and the probability of his or her appearing at the trial or hearing of the case. Public safety shall be the primary consideration. A person may be released on his or her own recognizance in the court’s discretion, subject to the same factors considered in setting bail. However, no person charged with the commission of any serious felony may be released on bail, a hearing may be held before the magistrate or judge, and the prosecuting attorney shall be given notice and reasonable opportunity to be heard on the matter. When a judge or magistrate grants or denies bail or release on a person’s own recognizance, the reasons for that decision shall be stated in the record and included in the court’s minutes.
On June 8, 1984 during the statewide primary ballot the voters passed Prop 4 which amended the California Constitution to include the following:
When setting the amount of bail the following had to be taken into consideration (which the courts were already doing but it wasn’t in the CA Constitution):
- Seriousness of the offense;
- Person’s previous criminal record;
- The likelihood that the person will appear to stand trial.
With the passage of Prop 4 the 3 factors became a requirement into the CA Constitution.
CA State Legislature cannot change the requirements by passing, repealing or altering statutes and the only way to change the 3 factors would be by a statewide vote of the people.
Prop 4 allows judges to deny bail in felony cases involving acts of violence against another person when (a) the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption of guilt is great and (b) there is a substantial likelihood that the accused’s release would result in great bodily harm to others. And Prop 4 allowed bail to be denied in felony cases when (a) the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption of guilt is great and (b) the accused has threatened another with great bodily harm and there is a substantial likelihood that the threat would be carried out if the person were released.
What does the CA Constitution have to do with Bail Reform? In previous chapters I wrote about the nonprofit folks from Washington, DC on a grant from Harvard University going around the United States like a group of pied pipers promising to abolish bail across the land because its unfair for “poor criminals” sitting in jails that cannot afford bail. Their answer? Abolish bail…..set them free and pray on a “pinky promise” they return to court. The big losers? The victims, public safety and the taxpayers.
Fast forward to 2017….enter CA Senator Bob Hertzberg from District 18, Van Nuys, Los Angeles who introduced SB10. Bail: Pretrial Release. An Act to amend Section 1270 of the Penal Code in CA.
This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to safely reduce the number of people detained pretrial, while addressing racial and economic disparities in the pretrial system, to ensure that people are not held in pretrial detention simply because of the inability to afford money bail.
Next….Enter Assembly Person Rob Bonta from the 18th Assembly District, East Bay of San Francisco Bay Area who introduced AB42. Bail Reform. An Act to amend Section 1270 of the Penal Code of CA, relating to bail.
This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to safely reduce the number of people detained pretrial, while addressing racial and economic disparities in the pretrial system, to ensure that people are not held in pretrial detention simple because of the inability to afford money bail.
I’m sorry…..did Senator Hertzberg copy off of Assembly Person Bonta’s paper? The bills are identical except for the mere fact each bill was introduced in the CA Senate and CA Assembly. The cost of either or both???? MILLIONS to the taxpayers of CA and threatens public safety, victims safety and safety of our law enforcement forced to rearrest defendants in a revolving door to our jails. The “CATCH AND RELEASE” program NJ has right now would come to California.
And finally we have a bill introduced by Assembly Person Blanca Rubio from the 48th Assembly District representing San Gabriel Valley in Sacramento. AB789. Criminal Procedure: Release on Own Recognizance. An Act to amend Section 1319.5 of the Penal Code, relating to criminal law.
Existing law prohibits the release of any person on his or her own recognizance who is arrested for a new offense and who is currently on felony probation or felony parole or who fails to appear in court as ordered, resulting in a warrant being issued, 3 or more times over the 3 years preceding the current arrest, and who is arrested for any felony offense or other specified crimes, until a hearing is held in open court before a magistrate or judge.
This bill would ALLOW a court to approve, without a hearing in open court, own recognizance releases under a court-operated or court-approved pretrial release for arrestees with 3 or more prior FAILURES TO APPEAR.
I’m sorry…..Assembly Person Rubio must have missed this PRETRIAL SERVICES video. Perhaps its time she views this video and rethinks AB789…..
SB10, AB42 and AB789 are bills that will abolish bail in CA which is a back door way to alter the CA Constitution Article 1 -Declaration of Rights, (e) Public Safety Bail. Remember this?
“CA State Legislature cannot change the requirements by passing, repealing or altering statutes and the only way to change the 3 factors would be by a statewide vote of the people.”
Which means CA Senator Hertzberg, CA Assembly Persons Bonta and Rubio knew or should have known, their bills would alter the CA Constitution. SB10, AB42 and AB789 are bills to amend the CA Penal Code which is unconstitutional. With Prop 4, to amend, repeal or alter the CA Constitution Article 1- Declaration of Rights, (e) Public Safety Bail requires a statewide vote of the people.
Readers Digest abbreviated version of CA history about releasing inmates to save money…….In 2011, AB109 which was a bill to reduce the CA prison population by punishing low-level felony offenders with local jail or out-of-custody “mandatory supervision” instead of prison.
In 2014, Prop 47 became a law in CA. The intent of the proposition:
- Reduce 7 property or drug possession felonies to straight misdemeanors.
- Allow certain offenders currently serving a felony sentence for those offenses to petition the sentencing court to have the felony sentence reduced to a misdemeanor sentence.
- Allow certain offenders who have already completed their felony sentence for those offenses to apply to the sentencing court to have the felony designated as a misdemeanor.
In 2016, Prop 57 became a law in CA. The intent of the proposition:
- Allows parole consideration for nonviolent felons.
- Changes policies on juvenile prosecution.
- Authorizes sentence credits for rehabilitation, good behavior and education.
- Allows Parole Board to release nonviolent prisoners once they have served the full sentence for their primary criminal offense.
- Requires the Dept of Corrections to develop uniform parole credits, which rewards prisoners’ good behavior with reduced sentences.
- Allows Juvenile Court Judges to determine whether or not juveniles aged 14 and older should be prosecuted and sentenced as an adult, repealing Prop 21 from March, 2000 which gave prosecutors the sole authority to decide whether to try a “young offender” as a juvenile or adult.
Since AB109, Prop 47 and Prop 57 public safety has been threatened. The Drug Court in San Diego which used to be successful in helping drug addicts rehabilitate is no longer court ordered. Since its voluntary many drug addicts are being arrested over and over with misdemeanor charges for possession of controlled substances thanks to Prop 47. Defendants addicted to Meth in San Diego have no hope of getting the help they need due to lack of money to pay for rehab programs. Prop 47 promised to save taxpayers money by releasing inmates and using the money for drug rehab programs which never happened. We’re still waiting for the rehab programs funded by CA.
Every day on the news we see multiple stories about theft crimes which include criminals stealing packages from the front doors of homes, (just a misdemeanor charge if they’re caught and it was less than $950 stolen thanks to Prop 47). Commercial burglaries that we see the crimes being committed on surveillance cameras. Crime appears to have increased depending on the report you’re reading. All of the laws since 2011 were designed to reduce the population in our prisons and jails. Prop 47 has been a disaster. USA Today Network published a story in December, 2016 about the 13,500 inmates released due to Prop 47 and many are addicted to drugs living on our streets. Many need drug rehab, many need to be an inpatient in a mental health facility and many need jobs and a place to live. Prop 47 gave them freedom…but at what cost?
Since 2011 we’ve learned that reducing prison and jail population has increased crime in CA. Public Safety has been threatened and the last thing we need are more criminals back out onto the streets to reoffend. Look what’s happening in Pacific Beach.
What happens if Bail Reform Bills SB10, AB42 and AB789 are passed into law? Approximately 76,000 inmates awaiting trials could be released in CA to our streets on a “pinky promise” to return for court appearances with no accountability with Pretrial Services. Why are so many defendants sitting in jails awaiting trial? Ask the Chief Justice of California why she closed courtrooms causing a bottleneck of cases and many “languishing” in jail because they cannot afford bail. These defendants are in jail because there was enough evidence to “bound them over” for trial. Evidence collected by our law enforcement in hopes of making sure victims see justice for crimes committed against them.
The cost to taxpayers could be over $200 Million which we’ve learned from New Jersey with their Bail Reform Act which went into law on January 1, 2017. The voters in NJ were sold a bill of goods about how they could save the taxpayers money by the “Catch and Release” program aka Bail Reform. The voters in NJ fell for it and now they’re furious with Governor Chris Christie for pushing for NJ Bail Reform Act and making it the law on January 1, 2017. The cost to NJ taxpayers is estimated in excess of $200 Million and climbing. And by abolishing bail in NJ the judges have been empowered to hold defendants in jail on their discretion and since there’s no bail….there’s no way to get out of jail. NJ gave up their right to bail in hopes of saving money for housing defendants awaiting trial.
Douglas J. Welfi is homeless and sitting in Hudson County detention without bail for making terrorist threats and violating a restraining order when he was drunk. http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2017/01/post_875.html
Bail has been in the U.S. Constitution in the Bill of Rights, 8th Amendment since 1789 and revised in 1992.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution put bail in the Bill of Rights because they wanted to make sure anyone that commits a crime returns to court. For 200 years bail has worked at no cost to the taxpayers. So why should you care about Bail Reform? Maybe you’ve never been arrested and bail doesn’t matter to you. Let me tell you why you should care about Bail Reform. Here’s what will happen with and without bail in CA.
Without Surety Bail:
- No accountability for arrestees charged with crimes once released from jail.
- Threat to victims and the community.
- No penalty for Failing to Appear in Court.
- Court costs when defendants Fail to Appear.
- Threat to public safety.
- Cost for issuing a warrant for arrest.
- Cost for Warrant Enforcement detail.
- Threat to law enforcement responsible for rearresting defendants only to watch them leave again after being booked into jail.
- High cost of crime and rearresting defendants passed on to taxpayers.
With Surety Bail:
- Accountability that Defendants will return to court.
- Surety bears the cost of defendants that Fail to Appear in court….not the taxpayers.
- Surety bears the cost of active apprehension of defendants that fail to appear for court.
- No cost to taxpayers for defendants released on a Surety Bail Bond.
That’s why its important to oppose Bail Reform bills SB10, AB42 and AB789. Before these bills make their way through the Public Safety Committee call these legislators and let them know you oppose their bills and you’re fed up with all the crime in our neighborhoods and we want to feel safe in our homes again. Enough is enough. Saving money for housing criminals is a small price to pay for the cost of being a victim of a crime in your home, at your business or walking down the street in neighborhoods that used to be safe before Governor Jerry Brown started releasing criminals from our jails undermining our law enforcement. Help us stop Bail Reform in CA. Call the lawmakers that introduced the Bail Reform bills and call your CA Senator and Assembly Person for your District and oppose any law that will release anyone arrested for a crime in CA early or without being required to post bail while awaiting trial.
For SB10 – CA Senator Bob Hertzberg’s contact information.
Sacramento Capitol Office: (916) 651-4018 or Fax (916) 651-4918
District Office in Van Nuys: (818) 901-5588 or Fax (818) 901-5562
For AB42 – CA Assembly Person Rob Bonta contact information.
Sacramento Capitol Office: (916) 319-2018
District Office: (510) 286-1670
For AB789 – CA Assembly Person Blanca Rubio contact information.
Sacramento Capitol Office: (916) 319-2048
District Office: (626) 960-4457