Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore is expressing concern about the county’s new zero bail policy that is set to take effect this weekend which will allow some criminal suspects to be cited and released when they would have previously 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 on Oct. 1.
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.
“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,” Presiding Judge Samantha P. Jessner said at the time.
Those arrested for more serious crimes will go before a magistrate, who will determine “appropriate non-financial pre-arraignment release terms,” the news release stated.
Additionally, anyone charged with capital offenses or felonies that are eligible for the death penalty will not be eligible for the pre-arraignment release, officials indicated.
Examples given for possible conditions of release of more serious offenders include prohibitions against engaging in illegal conduct, check-ins with court staff, text reminders about court appearances, home supervision and electronic monitoring.
In a statement Tuesday, Moore expressed his concern that the zero bail policy will compromise law enforcement’s ability to effectively fight crime.
“Law enforcement is averse to the list of ‘book and release’ offenses because that approach offers little to no deterrence to those involved in a range of serious criminal offenses,” Moore said.
He believes that removing the safeguards provided by the current bail system puts the public in danger.
“We are asking the court to not release individuals who pose risks to the community safety, including those with repeated instances of prior serious offenses,” Moore said.
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.