The Judicial Council, the head of California Courts, has issued new rules during COVID-19, requiring an emergency bail schedule during the pandemic.
The new rule sets bail for people accused of a misdemeanor or low-level felony at $0 while they await trial. It names 13 felony violations that are exempt to the rule in which a judge can still use the county bail schedule, and references their state constitutional authority to deny bail under certain circumstances.
“Ending money bail has been a long-time advocacy position of Western Center and we are grateful for this temporary pause of the unconstitutional practice of denying people freedom while they await trial unless they can afford to pay bail,” said Jessica Bartholow, policy advocate at Western Center. “We are hopeful that the Judicial Council will ensure that bail data collected during this time, which is required by Senate Bill 36 and is intended to prevent and document racial bias in pre-trial jail detention decisions, will still be pursued and reported to the Legislature during the pandemic, and that the Council will work to permanently end money bail beyond the pandemic.”
“The Judicial Counsel’s decision to set an emergency bail schedule to $0, for most offenses, will save lives,” said Michael Mendoza, National Director at #cut50, a program of the Dream Corps. “We at #cut50 welcome this temporary solution during this pandemic and look forward to ending the practice of money bail as we move past the immediate risk of COVID-19’s rapid spread and toward a justice system that prioritizes healing and restoration over punishment. More needs to be done beyond this temporary measure to keep people in jails and prisons safe – and to reduce the number of people behind bars. We urge all local, state and federal lawmakers to continue taking urgent steps now, before more lives are needlessly lost.”