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California Ends Cash Bail in Massive Overhaul

California, Gov. Jerry Brown, Bail reform, Cash bail
Screenshot of Gov. Jerry Brown at National Press Club in D.C.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a reform bill on Tuesday that eliminates bail for suspects awaiting trial, making it the first state in the U.S. to do so, NPR reports.

The California Money Bail Reform Act, which goes into effect in October 2019, would not allow people to put up money or borrow it from a bail bondsman in order for them to be released from jail, but would let the courts to decide who they would keep in custody and who would be released pending their trial.

“Today, California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly,” Brown said in a statement on Tuesday.

Bail reform has reportedly been something that Brown had wanted to reform since 1979 when he was first served as governor of California. 

He believed that the current system privileges the wealthy, who have the financial means to pay, while hurting the poor, who have no option but to remain in custody, according to NPR.

California will join Washington, D.C., which has a cashless bail system. New Jersey, per NPR, recently passed a law that weakens the dependence on cash bail, per the report.

State Senator Robert Herzberg, who co-authored the bill, said that The Golden State is committed to creating a system that’s equal to all of its residents.

“Our path to a more just criminal justice system is not complete, but today it made a transformational shift away from valuing private wealth and toward protecting public safety,” he said in a statement to NPR. “California will continue to lead the way toward a safer and more equitable system.”

People in California’s bail industry did not react positively to the news saying that the law will cause people to lose jobs and place a burden on taxpayers.

“We’re gone. We’re done. As of today, the bail industry will start shuttering their doors,” Topo Padilla, President of the Golden State Bail Agents Association told NPR. “[The law] straps the taxpayers with funding 100 percent of all pretrial release programs.”

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