A new zero-bail policy has taken effect in Los Angeles County, and now a dozen cities have taken legal action against it, arguing that it will lead to repeat offenders.
The no-bail policy allows suspects arrested for what are known as “non-violent, non-serious” crimes, like retail and car theft, will no longer have to post cash bail to be released from jail.
Instead, some could be cited and released right after arrest, while others could be taken to a magistrate where conditions would be set.
“I don’t think the public understands that the differential about whether or not you got out of jail was not based upon your risk to the community or the risk to the victim or the risk of failure to appear,” said David Slayton, the Executive Officer of the LA County Superior Court. “The differential about whether or not you got out was based upon whether or not you had money.”
Slayton says the new rules went into effect on Sunday.
“The money is not going to make the difference between someone being risky or not, and so the goal is to really come up with conditions that are tailored to that individual so that when they are released from jail, it ensures that they’ll show up to court and helps reduce the risk to the community and to the victim,” he said.
However, twelve cities in L.A. County are crying foul and have taken legal action to stop the new rules from being used.
“The message that we’re sending criminals is, you know, there’s impunity, right? They can go. They do the smash-and-grab. They will be cited and released,” said Downey Mayor Claudia Frometa.
The District Attorney in Yolo County agrees. After Yolo County was forced by the State of California to implement zero-bail rules during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, they went back and studied how it worked.
“What we found when we looked at zero bail compared to traditional bail was really stunning to me,” said Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig. “We found that people who were released on zero-bail committed 163% more crime than people who were released for the same offenses on traditional bail. And they committed 200% more violent crime.”
Those figures don’t match what’s been observed in Los Angeles County, Slayton said.
The Los Angeles County Superior Court has apparently conducted its own studies that show very different results that show clear support of the zero-bail policy.
Downey’s mayor said that the cities taking legal action against zero-bail are scheduled to be in court on Wednesday.