By Raymond Nava
Voters should vote no on Proposition 25. Prop. 25 would uphold Senate Bill 10, which deals with replacing California’s cash bail system.
While the intentions behind SB10 are in good faith, it doesn’t answer core problems and would pose great risk to the public.
California currently uses a cash bail system where criminal defendants pay a cash bond, with the amount being determined by the court, to be released from prison while they await trial, with the promise to appear in court for their trial.
The bond would be repaid to the defendant after the trial regardless of the outcome.
Defendants usually can pay the bond with their own money or use the services of a cash bond agent who charges a premium fee, but will pay the full bond.
Sam Lewis, the executive director of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, brings up the cases of Brock Turner and Kenneth Humphrey.
Humphrey, a black senior citizen, was accused of stealing $5 and a bottle of cologne, was charged with burglary and elder abuse. he was ultimately given a $350,000 bond.
Turner was accused of sexually assaulting a drunk woman and given a $150,000 bond. Turner was able to pay his bond, but Humphrey was not.
While it’s understandable the frustration at this situation, SB10 does not correctly fix the larger issue at hand. Turner should not have been granted bail at all given the nature of the crime he was accused of.
The debate shouldn’t be about if a person’s wealth dictates whether they stay in jail. It should be about the seriousness of the crime.
SB10 is designed to replace this system with a risk assessment system. The system would determine the risk of whether suspects would fail to appear in court for their trial or not and decide if they should be released or kept in prison.
There would be three risk rankings. Low risk individuals would be deemed having a low risk of failing to show up to court. Medium risk individuals would be detained or released, depending on the rules of their local court.
High risk individuals remain in jail as they are deemed as being a risk to the public and to miss their court appearance. They would get an opportunity to argue for their release before a judge.
SB10 doesn’t mention if the seriousness of the charge will play a role in dictating the risk assessment of the defendant.
It doesn’t state if someone accused of crimes such as murder could be deemed as low risk or not.
The official voter guide does not make this clear either.
If we are going to replace the cash bail system with a risk assessment system, there should be safe guards in place to make sure people accused of violent crimes do not get let out and SB10 does not ensure this.
The cash bail system is one way and reforms should be made to it instead of scrapping it and replacing it.
SB10 was designed with good intentions but the final product doesn’t solve the problem.
Rather than reform the current system to where the amount of the bond matches the crime, SB10 scraps it entirely. Voters should vote no on Prop. 25.