SB-10 bail Reforms

SB 10 BAD For California

SB 10 began with a promise to Californians to reform cash bail.  The NAACP, ACLU, Black Lives Matter, Essie Justice Group, DE-BUG, and over 50 other groups have withdrawn their support of SB 10.  After two years of promises to supporters to reduce unfair jail detention and prison overcrowding authors of SB 10 deviated from their promises and changed the verbiage on SB 10 to include pretrial assessment and preventative detention, leaving many original supporters to scramble at the 11th hour in opposition.

Unfortunately, on August 28, 2018, California Governor Brown passed the bill.  A referendum has been filed with the Attorney General to have this bill placed on the 2020 ballot to provide a voice to Californians.

What does it all mean?

SB 10 creates risks; it will increase taxes, violates civil rights, increases crime and prison overcrowding, reduces safety and will eliminate an entire industry composed of over 7,000 people.

Increase taxes

  • Although still unknown, some estimate the annual cost to be around $860 million.

Violates Civil Rights

  • SB 10 violates the constitution; California Constitution (CA CON) under Article 1, §12, which provides that “[a] person shall be released on bail by sufficient sureties, except for certain serious offenses.”
  • Due process; innocent until proven guilty. The new bill strips away constitutional rights.  Regardless of innocence or false arrest, under the new bill only an algorithm or judge’s discretion will be used for release.
  • The option to not wear a prison jumpsuit and shackles for in custody appearances is only applicable at trial meaning there is will be an increase unfair biased at arraignment since incarcerated defendants cannot wear regular civilian clothing. This is extremely concerning as most attorneys agree the courtroom takes real notice of a defendant’s appearance in court.
  • SB 10 Bill claims to release defendants within 12 hours with a caveat that applies to “most misdemeanors”however, have 24 hours and can extend an additional 12 hours for a potential release of 36 hours if eligible, SB 10 is vague and not specific if those are business hours as current arraignment of 72 business hours
  • Some jails have certain release times such as jails in remote areas potentially resulting in additional release times.
  • 9% of defendants held in jail after seven days are held due to lack of financial resources otherwise most are held in detention due to holds such as probation, parole, and immigration.

Increase crime

  • Algorithms are not accurate and remove human factor. Algorithms have proven to be racially bias and mistakenly categorize high-risk as low-risk and vice versa.  Release of dangerous criminals will increase.

Eliminate an entire industry

  • Over 7,000 jobs not including vendors will lose jobs.
  • Bail returns up to 97% of all failures to appear (FTA), FTA’s cause warrants and steep fines.

Algorithms’ use artificial intelligence (AI) to predict violations or crimes before they occur this is based on age, drug use or history, criminal history, gang affiliations and amongst others employment.

  • Not streamlined across the state resulting in each county to implement regional algorithms’ resulting in regional biases.


Replacing cash bail with a risk-assessment system is not bail reform, more people will be in jail longer.  SB 10 contradicts what it originally set out to do; reduce prison over-crowding and reduce racial inequalities within the prison system!

Common Sense Alternatives to Bail Reform in California:

1) Maintain cash/surety bail as an alternative for those who choose to waive their right to pre-trial review and hire the services of a licensed surety bail agent.  This not only protects the rights of those who choose to use the services of a surety agent, but it also shortens the length of time they remain in pre-trial custody.  This is much like a when an individual hires private defense counsel.

2) Establish research initiatives to research the impact of non-monetary forms of pre-trial detention.

3) Establish a Centralized Statewide Bail Schedule and Remove Regional Bias

a) Significant disparity from county to county (San Diego 14K; San Francisco 49K)

b) Establish Statewide Bail Schedule Advisory Council to Review and Revise (as needed)

c) Prohibit Bail Stacking: In certain jurisdictions (ex: Riverside), the judges and magistrates follow a practice of setting bail based on the cumulative bail amount for each charge (stacking) v. other jurisdictions that set bail based on the bail amount for the highest charge.

d) Anecdote: The statewide average bail schedule has risen by 40% between 2004 and 2017 from $15,000 to $21,000. This data was derived using bail market data from court jurisdictions throughout the state.

4) Shorten Bail Hearing Delays from 72 hours to 24 Hours

5) Decrease court fines reduce warrants to reduce the recidivism cycle

6) Appropriation of additional funding for pre-trial services to expand service for those who qualify as indigent.

7) Pass legislation to automatically reduce bail amounts for certain offenses if a defendant is in custody for longer than 10 days to provide greater access to cash/surety bail to those who qualify as indigent.

8) Pass legislation to require judges/magistrates to review cases for pre-trial release on an ongoing basis.

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