Statewide referendum for bail reform to be on November ballot

California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Dangerous criminals stay out of jail while awaiting trial while those accused of nonviolent petty crimes can stay behind bars for months, and those who support bail reform say it comes down to one question. 

“How much money do you have?” said Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda. 

Authors of the bail reform bill and supporters must beat back an attempt to void the measure on the November ballot with a campaign that emphasizes the sins of a costly system that houses nonviolent suspects because they can’t afford bail. 

The burden is not only on taxpayers. It’s on communities of color who are clamoring for equity. 

“It criminalizes poverty. It criminalizes folks of color. It criminalizes all the same people who are protesting for Black Lives Matter,” Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs told FOX40. 

Under the bill, jail time is not based on making bail. 

“What is your risk of safety to the community?” said Bonta. 

The ballot challenge comes as the bail bond industry makes no bones about the fact it acts as an insurance agency for the courts, taking risks to make sure people make their court dates. 

It denies claims that 60% of those jailed remain there because they are poor. 

“That is a bald faced lie,” said bail bondsman Topo Padilla. 

Padilla said there is a reason that some of them are there. 

“There’s a public safety aspect to it or they have failures to appear and the judge has set their bail a little higher,” explained Padilla. 

Padilla said under the reforms, judges will be using set criteria that will deny bail and take away some people’s rights to remain free until trial.

“A lot of minorities that these people are advocating to fight for that will be harmed and will stay in jail,” he said.

The big question is whether suspects released from county jails with no bail will pose a risk to the public. 

The bail bond industry points to the pandemic no-bail policy that resulted in high profile rearrests, sometimes the same day suspects were released with no bail. 

Bail reformers say it’s not true. 

“There’s no gigantic uptick in crime during this timeframe. It proves the point 100%,” said Sen. Bob Herzberg, D-Van Nuys.

The statewide referendum will be on the November ballot with a yes vote meaning a vote for bail reform. 

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