Editorial: Bail reform on track for California, with an early assist from Santa Clara County

Bail reform is the kind of revolutionary idea people often associated with the Left Coast, but not this time. States like New Jersey and Kentucky are way ahead of California on experiments to help ensure that people’s lives aren’t ruined by an arrest — not a conviction — for a non-violent crime, as routinely happens now.

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Santa Clara County is jump starting the reform movement in this state. Last week the Board of Supervisors approved an ambitious plan to help suspects in nonviolent crimes stay out of jail — keeping their jobs, supporting their families — while awaiting court action. People of means can do this by just writing a check, knowing they’ll get the full amount back when they show up for court.

The Legislature dropped this year’s state bail reform proposals in August, when Gov. Jerry Brown promised to make reform a priority next year. With his support, and the advocacy of California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, momentum suddenly feels strong.

The aim is not just the obvious one — equal justice — but also improved public safety and lower public costs.

Today bail is imposed based on the crime, without regard for the suspect’s ability to pay. Low-income residents have two choices: go to a bail bond company that charges 10 percent …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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