A recent Supreme Court ruling (In re Humphrey) held that it is unconstitutional to detain a person before they are tried simply because they cannot afford bail, and Los Angeles County must now develop the policy that will guarantee compliance.
In a motion approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors today, LA County will develop a bail reform plan in the next 60 days that protects the constitutional rights of accused people, promotes public safety, and is in keeping with the County’s “care first, jail last” approach.
As of April 12th of this year, nearly 6,000 people were in LA County custody awaiting trial, many of them simply too poor to post bail and be released. A disproportionate number of these men and women are Black, Indigenous or People of Color. While they await trial, they risk losing jobs, housing, and even their children.
Today’s motion, authored by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda L. Solis, calls on the Public Defender, the Alternate Public Defender, and the District Attorney, in coordination with the Chief Executive Office, County Counsel, Los Angeles City Attorney, Los Angeles City Attorneys Association, Probation Department, Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Superior Court, California Attorney General, and pretrial experts, to develop recommendations for how LA County can implement bail reform in compliance with the state Supreme Court ruling.
“Bail reform is a fair, just and common sense policy,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “When people are held in custody simply because they are too poor to post bail, their lives are destabilized. They lose jobs. They risk becoming homeless. Their children may enter foster care. And for what? In jurisdictions around the country where bail reform has been implemented, the reforms have been accompanied by an increase in public safety and a drop in crime. We have every reason to believe that bail reform will reduce our jail population, reduce recidivism, improve court appearance rates, and help stabilize communities that are often destabilized as a result of bail-related job loss and homelessness.”
“California’s money bail system is unfair and unjust as it places barriers and obstacles in front of poor defendants who cannot afford to make bail, disproportionately impacting Latinx and Black communities,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District. “Wealth should not be a factor on whether you languish in the jail system.”