Twelve cities in Los Angeles County have filed a lawsuit Friday against the new zero-bail policy set to take effect on Oct. 1.
The policy would allow some criminal suspects with non-violent or non-serious crimes to be cited and released when, previously, they would have been held on bond.
The new Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols are designed to rely less on the arrestee’s ability to pay and more on their risk to the public or victim, Los Angeles County Superior Court stated following a July decision to institute the system.
According to the protocols, those arrested for low-level, non-violent offenses will be released at the location of arrest or booked and then released with a promise to appear at arraignment.
Court papers submitted to the L.A. County Superior Court on behalf of the dozen cities said the new zero-bail policy is a threat to public safety.
The cities behind the suit include Arcadia, Artesia, Covina, Downey, Glendora, Industry, Lakewood, La Verne, Palmdale, Santa Fe Springs, and Whittier.
Those city leaders are hoping to either block the new policy altogether or at least postpone its implementation.
“As soon as other cities in Los Angeles County know about it, I’m sure we’ll have additional support,” said Gary Boyer, Mayor of Glendora. “But our big hope would be to overturn the zero bail policy or at least put a pause on it so that we have the ability to take a harder look at it and find out whether or not this is the right thing to do.”
“Seeing that there has been a lot of robberies at local malls and department stores, it’s saddening to see it happen and people getting away with it,” said Ronnie Salazar, a Glendora business owner. “If we don’t have product, we can’t sell it and it’s very saddening to see that policy could potentially affect so many businesses here.”
Officials note the new policy would not apply to those arrested for serious crimes such as murder, capital offenses or felonies that are eligible for the death penalty.
L.A. County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell supports the policy saying, “Pre-trial release should depend on a person’s risk to public safety. Our justice system should not be for sale. We cannot conflate bail with accountability. Our community deserves accountability that matches the offense and investments in community interventions that help prevent crime from happening.”
L.A. County Presiding Judge Samantha P. Jessner said, “A person’s ability to pay a large sum of money should not be the determining factor in deciding whether that person, who is presumed innocent, stays in jail before trial or is released.”
The new protocols will be tested quickly as Los Angeles has dealt with a recent increase in thefts and robberies, some of which have involved mobs of people ransacking high-end department and jewelry stores in broad daylight.
As the 12 L.A. County cities continue their fight against the policy, they believe more city leaders will join in their cause as the weeks roll on.