November 1, 2016
A decades-old California law that keeps people in jail if they can’t afford bail after their arrest came under renewed attack Tuesday from San Francisco’s city attorney, who said the city wouldn’t defend the law in court, and a Bay Area legislator, who promised a bill to repeal it.
The law “creates a two-tiered system: one for those with money and another for those without. It doesn’t make anybody safer,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said at a news conference as his office informed a federal judge that the city would not fight a civil rights group’s lawsuit challenging the cash bail system.
The group, Equal Justice Under Law, filed separate suits in San Francisco and Sacramento arguing that the state law, as applied in those counties, discriminated against the poor. The law requires all counties to set bail in varying amounts depending on the seriousness of the crime.
Defendants who can’t afford bail, or the 10 percent fee charged by bail bond companies, remain behind bars at least until they are formally charged and arraigned, usually 48 hours after arrest. At that point, a judge sets conditions for pretrial release based on the risk to public safety or the chance they might flee.
Those conditions often include bail, in an amount the judge considers adequate to ensure the defendant’s appearance in court. But the lawsuits currently challenge only the earlier, automatic requirement of bail after someone is arrested and jailed. Opponents had sought to overturn the entire bail system, but federal courts said the judges who set bail after arraignment were legally immune.
ABC News Report
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