California’s criminal justice system got a major shake-up late last week when the state’s Supreme Court issued a bombshell ruling effectively putting an end to cash bail for those who can’t afford to pay, The Daily Wire reported.
The unanimous decision reportedly came despite voters in the Golden State recently rejecting a ballot measure that would have eliminated cash bail altogether.
The final decision
In an opinion handed down Thursday, California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar said on behalf of fellow members of the high court bench that “[t]he common practice of conditioning freedom solely on whether an arrestee can afford bail is unconstitutional,” as The Daily Wire reported.
“Other conditions of release — such as electronic monitoring, regular check-ins with a pretrial manager, community housing or shelter, and drug and alcohol treatment — can in many cases protect public and victim safety as well as assure the arrestee’s appearance at trial,” the justice charged.
The Daily Wire cited a Los Angeles Times article that claimed “Thursday’s ruling is likely to lead to many more people being released without bail before they go to trial.”
Under the new ruling, the L.A. Times reports, “judges may keep criminal defendants locked up only when ‘clear and convincing’ evidence shows there is no other way to protect the public and ensure the defendants’ return for court appearances.”
According to the Associated Press, Cuéllar wrote that if such “a financial condition is nonetheless necessary, the court must consider the arrestee’s ability to pay the stated amount of bail — and may not effectively detain the arrestee ‘solely because’ the arrestee ‘lacked the resources’ to post bail.”
A look ahead
According to The Daily Wire, the move was welcomed by Los Angeles’ new left-wing District Attorney George Gascon, who tweeted: “No one should be locked up in jail simply because they cannot afford to buy their freedom.”
The George Soros-backed prosecutor went on: “Money bail is unjust and unnecessary. It must go.”
But not everyone agreed. Kymberlee Stapleton, an attorney for the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, said the move merely limits the actions judges can take to protect crime victims.
“Judges already had the ability to release suspects on their own recognizance,” Stapleton said, according to the AP.
“The money bail is there to ensure that they do come back for their trial date, and they’re incarcerated to protect the victim or the public,” she added. “It’s hard to tell what impact this will have on victim and public safety going forward.”