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Cash bail doesn’t make California safer, it just crowds our jails

By in Press Enterprise on November 29, 2017

By The Editorial Board

How much money someone has shouldn’t be the final determinant of whether or not he or she remains behind bars or gets released from jail after being arrested.

Yet that’s all too often how California’s pretrial justice system works, with potentially tens of thousands of people on any given day deemed eligible for release but stuck in jail simply because they haven’t posted monetary bail and might not be able to.

According to Human Rights Watch, between 2011-2015, one-third of the nearly 1.5 million felony arrests made in California ended in either charges never being filed, charges being dismissed or acquittal, with such resolutions coming days, weeks or months after arrest.

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In a nation where people are presumed innocent until proven guilty, people who have not been found guilty of a crime and found eligible for release from jail pending a trial or further proceedings should not have their lives turned upside down simply because they can’t afford monetary bail. We think it’s normal, but it’s not. Only two countries, the U.S. and the Philippines, allow for-profit bail bondsmen.

This is a costly problem. As a recent report from the Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard University Law School noted, in addition to the high direct […]    

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