CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY ATTEMPTING TO SNEAK ZERO REFORM BILL THROUGH IN FINAL HOURS OF LEGISLATIVE SESSION
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Franklinville, NJ (August 24, 2022) – After lying dormant for nearly a year, the California Assembly suddenly resurrected Senate Bill 262 on Tuesday and placed the inactive zero bail bill back on its active legislation list. It is now on the calendar for final passage with only a handful of days left in the current session in an apparent attempt to squeeze the bill through the legislature.
Authored by Sen. Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), the bail reform legislation was withdrawn last September, only days following the horrendous slaying of a 61-year-old Sacramento woman. Troy Davis was free on zero bail when he committed the murder, despite a lengthy record of violent crimes.
Senate Bill 262 was criticized when it was first introduced by Hertzberg only months after the resounding defeat in November 2020 of Proposition 25 -- another effort by the senator -- which would have abolished cash bail in California.
“It is outrageous that Senator Hertzberg is putting this zero bail legislation on the third reading and final passage calendar at the eleventh hour. While he has promised to amend it, he had a year to do so and did nothing," said Jeffrey J. Clayton, Executive Director of the American Bail Coalition. "He appears poised to hoodwink the Assembly by attempting to jam through his zero bail legislation one more time.”
The legislation, as currently drafted, would implement a zero bail system that would be far more expansive than New York State's bail reform which has been under continuous criticism since it was implemented in 2019 and has since been substantially rolled-back. All defendants in California would be eligible for an "affordable bail," which would, in effect, end pretrial detention in the state. All criminal cases would qualify, including murder and rape.
The bill would also overrule the California Supreme Court’s decision in the case of In re Kenneth Humphrey by creating an absolute right to release. The high court had earlier rejected the premise as a constitutional "bridge too far."
Senate Bill 262 would also eliminate defendants having to pay for pretrial services, including house arrest and ankle monitors. While appealing on its face, this means that counties will bear the financial burden and will trigger an unfunded mandate, resulting in underfunded pretrial services for those who are truly indigent.
In addition, the bill would create an economic disincentive for bail bondsmen to bail out the innocent. Because Senate Bill 262 requires refunds to all defendants should they win their cases, the net effect is that greater numbers of innocent individuals would be left in jail, while the guilty would benefit and be set free.
About the American Bail Coalition
The American Bail Coalition is dedicated protecting the Constitutional right to bail and the promotion, protection and advancement of the surety bail profession in the United States. Comprised of the nation’s largest surety insurance companies, ABC works with local communities, law enforcement, legislators and other criminal justice stakeholders to utilizes its expertise and knowledge of the surety bail industry to develop more effective and efficient criminal justice solutions. www.ambailcoalition.org