UPDATE – 8/28/2018
Senate Bill 10, our bill to eliminate cash bail, was signed by Governor Brown on August 28, 2018! Since the summer of 2017, SEIU members in California have been fighting for bail reform as part of our efforts to improve racial and economic justice in the communities we serve. There is no economic justice when families are deprived of earnings, Black and Brown people are locked up at higher rates, and communities are locked in a cycle of poverty. That’s why we started this fight and that’s why we’ll keep fighting with social justice advocates until we’ve fully reformed the entire criminal justice system.
SB 10 means:
- California is now the first state in the nation to eliminate money bail, joining Washington DC in moving a crucial criminal justice reform forward by significantly reducing the number of people locked up who haven’t been convicted of a crime and are simply awaiting trial, while improving public safety. No one will ever have to await trial in jail because they can’t afford bail — whether they are Black, Brown, or white, rich or poor.
- The discriminatory and racist application of money bail ends NOW. No one will ever have to await trial in jail because they can’t afford bail — whether they are black, brown, or white, rich or poor.
- Safer communities. No one who is a safety risk can use bail to buy their way back on the streets because they’re rich.
- Safety, not money or race, will be the guiding factor in pre-trial releases.
“I’m proud that SB 10 will result in a pre-trial system that prevents families like mine from being exploited by the money bail industry while keeping our communities safer. Having tilted the scales toward justice, we won’t let up. We’ll keep fighting for reforms throughout our system to hold California to its promise of ‘justice for all.”
– Mullissa Willette, SEIU 521 Secretary and Exemption Investigator for Santa Clara County Assessor’s Office
UPDATE – 8/25/2017
Just two days after hundreds of SEIU Members traveled to the State Capitol to lobby in favor of SB10, Governor Jerry Brown has just announced that he will work with SB10 authors to make sure the bill gets passed. This means it will not be heard by the Appropriations Committee as scheduled at the end of the month but will be postponed. Read Gov. Brown’s press release here.
SEIU Members traveled to the State Capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday, August 23 to lobby in favor of SB10.
Curious as to why so many CA State Legislators are against Bail Reform? This Op-Ed in the LA Times follows the money trail from the bail bonds sector donations to the campaigns of several CA democrats.
Read SEIU 521 Executive Board member Jennifer Jensen’s Letter to the Editor in the Fresno Bee!
Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors adopts resolution to support SB 10
Shoutout to SEIU 521 members and Santa Clara County employees Julie Wood, Marcus Price and Mullissa Willette and community partner Jose Valle from Silicon Valley Debug who attended the August 15 Board meeting and spoke out in favor of SB 10.
In Santa Clara County, where pre-trial supervision services are already implemented and where judges have the option to require supervised release in place of money bail, 95.5% of released defendants appear for all their court dates and 98.7% are free of further arrest while awaiting trial.
Here are just of the few reasons SEIU Local 521 supports Bail Reform Bill SB10:
- California has a two-tiered justice system where freedom depends on how much money you have.
- When they can’t afford money bail, many people stay in jail for weeks, months or years while their case moves forward, or plead guilty to a crime they may not have committed.
- Families who can least afford it scrape together money to pay a bail bond company. Theses families don’t get back the 10% fee on their bond, even if the case is dismissed or their family member is found innocent.
- Bail is applied unevenly by race, an affront to our state’s promise of equal justice under the law.
Californians are paying too much for an ineffective bail system
As compared to the rest of the country, California keeps far more people in jail while they await trial. In California, over 60% of people in jails are awaiting trial or sentencing, costing California taxpayers $5 million a day.
California’s money bail system stands in the way of justice
Even just a few days in jail can cost someone his or her car, job, housing, or child custody. Because Black and Latino people are more likely than white people to be stuck in jail while their case moves forward, money bail fuels already egregious racial disparities in the justice system. Research shows that jailing people while their case moves forward puts them at higher risk of being convicted, taking a plea deal, and receiving harsher sentences. Research also shows that Black people are assigned higher bail amounts than white people accused of similar offenses. Specifically, bail bond amounts for Black men are 35% higher than bond amounts for white men. For Latino men, they’re 19% higher than for white men.
Pre-trial supervision makes communities safer
Pre-trial supervision prioritizes services to help people make their court appearances while their cases move forward. With pre-trial supervision, the court grants the defendant release but also sets specific terms of release. Common conditions for release on pretrial supervision include weekly check-ins, drug testing, electronic monitoring, or home detention.
Pre-trial supervision is a proven alternative to the unjust bail system
Kentucky, New Jersey, and Santa Clara County, California are among the jurisdictions that are effectively using pre-trial supervision. The federal justice system also deploys strategies similar to SB 10 to ensure court appearances. In Santa Clara County, where judges have the option to require supervised release in place of money bail, 95.5% of released defendants appear for all their court dates. 98.7% are free of further arrest while awaiting trial. Kentucky releases about 70% of people awaiting the resolution of their cases; 89% of those make all their future court appearances and 92% are not re-arrested while they are on pretrial release.
Pre-trial supervision saves money
If SB 10 reduced the pre-trial population by 10%, California could save $340 million in incarceration costs annually. Additional savings would be achieved with reductions in social services and reduced recidivism.
SEIU Members Help Deliver Justice and Save Money for California Taxpayers
SEIU members work in counties that provide judges the option for supervised release and those that don’t. We see how the money bail system is failing communities and taking an unjust toll on families. We provide the services that help people make their court dates, keep communities safe, and save money by preventing unnecessary detention.
|Current System||SB 10|
|Money bail is the default system in most counties; defendants
who can’t afford bail are held in jail awaiting trial.
|For non-violent offenses, judges have the option to release defendants with supervision and services that help them make their court dates.|
|Whether people sit in jail while awaiting trial depends on how much money they have — not whether they are guilty, innocent or likely to appear for their court date.||Judges make decisions about detention or release based on individual assessments of risk.|
|Taxpayers pay $5 million a day to hold people in jail while they are awaiting trial||Taxpayers save money when people can be in their communities safely while awaiting trial|
Update – July 11, 2017
The Assembly Public Safety Committee just passed the measure to reform California’s broken bail system!
Read SEIU California Press Release here.
— SEIU Local 521 (@SEIU521) July 11, 2017
SEIU 721 Members Valencia Garner, Simboa Wright, and SEIU 521 Leader Mullissa Willette (Left to right in the above photo) lobbied the California Legislature on May 17, 2017 to support the California Money Bail Reform Act (SB 10 & AB 42) which creates an alternative to the current money bail system and puts fairness back into our justice system.
Our current money bail system treats rich, guilty people better than poor, innocent people. California needs to stop wasting time and resources on this unfair and ineffective system that is harming our communities – particularly low-income people and people of color, and costing taxpayers millions. It’s also not a fair system when over 60 percent of people in California jails are there awaiting trial or sentencing simply because they cannot afford to post bail, while the rich are able to do so. Some people are losing their jobs, cars, homes and even custody of their children as a result, or have no choice but plead guilty to crimes they didn’t commit!
The California Money Bail Reform Act would put fairness back into our justice system by cutting back on the number of people locked up because they can’t afford to post bail, and by prioritizing services to help people make their court appearances while their cases move forward.
These bills would:
1. Make sure we aren’t locking up people because they can’t afford to post bail;
2. Take a case-by-case approach;
3. Prioritize alternative services to ensure people make their court appearances;
4. Address racial and economic disparities in the justice system.
California Senate approved SB 10 on May 31, 2017, a bill to reform and modernize California’s money bail system, which now heads to the Assembly. However, the California Assembly failed to approve AB 42, after continued pressure from the for-profit bail industry.
The California Money Bail Reform Act is sponsored by SEIU California, the American Civil Liberties Union of California, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Californians for Safety and Justice, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Essie Justice Group, the California Public Defenders Association, Silicon Valley De-Bug, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty.