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California Will Eliminate Its Cash Bail System to Reform Criminal Justice

The Golden State is set to abolish financial barriers in its criminal justice system.

Duane Paul Murphy

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California will become the first state in the country to officially end its cash bail system as part of the effort to reform its criminal justice system. On Tuesday, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown signed the ratified bill from the Democratic majority state legislature in the state capital city of Sacramento into law after a more than 40-year fight to reform and eventually end the system under Brown’s previous term during the 1970’s. This new law comes as a result of a state appellate decision in 2017 that declared the state’s cash bail system unconstitutional. The law will go into effect in October 2019. Washington, D.C. is also another jurisdiction to abolish its cash bail system.

Under the new law, residents arrested and charged with a crime would not be paying their own money or borrowing it from a bail bond agent in order to obtain their release from jail. Instead, local courts will decide who to keep in custody and whom to release while they await a trial. Those legal decisions will be based on an algorithm created by the courts in each local jurisdiction. In the majority of nonviolent misdemeanor cases, defendants would be released within 12 hours. In other legal instances, defendants will be scored on how likely they are going to be present for their court date, the seriousness of their specific crime, and the likelihoods of recidivism are after the arrest and charges.

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Duane Paul Murphy is a D.C. college student and student journalist born and raised in Southern California. Currently studying for his bachelor’s in politics and a minor in media studies, Duane Paul is interested in covering domestic as well as international political affairs that impact the lives of everyday people, whether they are young students, professionals, or faculty in higher education.

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