Bail will be set to $0 for most misdemeanors and low-level felonies in Los Angeles County, even as the statewide emergency zero-bail order expires.
The temporary but indefinite measure takes effect at 5 p.m. Saturday, just as the California Judicial Council’s order is set to expire, according to a news release from L.A. County Superior Court.
The $0 bail is aimed at reducing the local prison population amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Judicial Council said its order helped reduce jail populations by more than 20,000, but it is being phased out due to wide variance in the number of cases across California’s 58 counties.
But L.A. County remains the hardest hit by COVID-19, with nearly half the confirmed cases and more than half the virus-related deaths reported statewide. And of the county’s nearly 80,000 coronavirus cases, around 17% are in crowded residential facilities like jails and nursing homes.
Justice Marsha Slough, a member of the state council, had said individual counties could enact their own policy “where necessary to protect the health of the community, the courts, and the incarcerated.”
L.A. County’s rules include an exception for individuals recently released on $0 bail under the statewide order and rearrested for another offense.
Bail for those who are rearrested, and for violent crimes and higher-level felonies, will be scheduled as it typically would.
“During this state of emergency, it is necessary to assure persons accused of non-violent felonies and most misdemeanors are not held in jail pre-trial,” Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile said in a statement. “The court is working with its justice partners to protect the public on all fronts, including slowing the spread of COVID-19 within our jails, courthouses and communities.”