SECTION 1. The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Modernization of the pretrial system is urgently needed in California, where thousands of individuals held in county jails across the state have not been convicted of a crime and are detained while awaiting trial simply because they cannot afford to post money bail or pay a commercial bail bond company. In 2015, 63 percent of people in California jails were either awaiting trial or sentencing. As compared with the rest of the country, California has relied on pretrial detention at much higher rates than other states.
(b) California’s existing pretrial detention practices allow a person’s wealth rather than the
person’s likelihood of success on pretrial release to determine whether the person will remain in jail before the person’s case is resolved. Detaining people simply due to an inability to afford money bail violates the American principles of equal protection and fundamental fairness. Nationwide, the majority of people who are unable to meet money bail fall within the poorest third of society.
(c) The consequences of pretrial detention — which include a greater likelihood of innocent people pleading guilty to a crime, longer sentences upon conviction, loss of employment, income, and housing, and traumatic family disruption — disproportionately affect people of color and low-income people.
(d) The commercial money bail system, which requires people to pay nonrefundable deposits to private companies in order to secure release from jail, often leaves people in debt and drives them and
their families further into poverty. The commercial money bail system does not improve rates of appearance in court or enhance public safety.
(e) California should follow the lead of the federal government and jurisdictions across the country that have stopped making wealth-based decisions on pretrial detention and instead have shifted to a system that evaluates whether an individual can be safely returned to the community as well as make required court appearances, and, if so, under what conditions.
(f) It is far more expensive to house a person in jail than to safely release him or her pending trial with conditions of release or pretrial supervision.
(g) While unnecessary pretrial detention has been found to increase the likelihood that some defendants will commit new crimes, appropriate pretrial release can reduce
(h) Pretrial services programs have already been successfully implemented in many California jurisdictions and have helped to reduce pretrial jail populations, save money, increase rates of appearance in court, and protect the public.
(i) Increasing the use of evidence-based practices in pretrial decisions will provide judges, law enforcement agencies, and pretrial service providers with additional tools to both assist them in assessing a defendant’s likelihood of success on pretrial release and to identify and meet the needs of those defendants and the community to ensure constitutional and statutory objectives.
(j) Modernizing pretrial practices will support the goals of the Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011 by providing additional options to manage pretrial populations using best practices
developed over many years across many jurisdictions.