A zero-cash-bail policy was implemented in Los Angeles County in an effort to lessen the uneven effects that law enforcement officials fear may encourage crime. To limit the number of people in jails during the COVID-19 pandemic, the county initially implemented a zero-bail policy. However, due to “dismal” pre-trial detention conditions, the policy had to be reinstated.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Expresses Concerns Over Zero Bail Policy
In a statement to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors this week, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said, “Our communities have not been shy about telling us how nervous they are about this change.” “Crime victims lose faith in the criminal justice system when offenders are freed from custody right away. I recognise the necessity to uphold the constitutional rights of those who have been arrested, but zero-bail policies can sap the morale of deputies and police officers who put in a lot of effort to conduct arrests just to see the criminal leave with a citation while the victim watches in shock.
Human trafficking, battery on a peace officer, and sex with a minor will result in court review, while assault, stalking, domestic battery, and violating a protective order will still need monetary bail. The majority of those detained for the majority of offences, however, will either be cited and released at the scene of their arrest or booked and released at the police station with instructions to appear in court for arraignment on a specific date.
Defendants who are out on parole or free before to their trials and are detected committing crimes will go before judges rather than being immediately released without bail again to counteract the possibility that people may use this policy to commit more crimes. However, according to law enforcement experts, this practise would not be feasible to implement with the county’s existing state of law enforcement data infrastructure due to a lack of real-time data shared throughout the county’s more than 50 law enforcement departments.
Los Angeles County’s Zero Bail Policy Sparks Controversy and Legal Challenges
The Centre Square quoted former Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villaneuva as saying, “You can get arrested in Pomona for a felony, you’re caught and released, cited out, and get arrested in Pacoima, and you’d be out again, because there’s no way to know who has been cited where.”
Twelve cities in the county of Los Angeles, including Arcadia, Artesia, Covina, Downey, Glendora, Industry, Lakewood, La Verne, Palmdale, Santa Fe Springs, Vernon, and Whittier, have filed a lawsuit to prevent the policy from taking effect.
“This zero-bail schedule is just another policy that leaves us less safe than we should be,” said Whittier Mayor Joe Vinatieri in a statement announcing the lawsuit.
Some defendants who had been apprehended were freed right away with court appearance mandates following a wave of viral “smash and grab” robberies, which are nonviolent felonies not subject to bail as long as firearms are not used.
The Superior Court of Los Angeles County based its ruling on research showing that ending pretrial detention reduces rearrests, while other California studies appear to contradict this. In Yolo County, zero-bail rules were in place from April 2020 to June 1, 2021. According to a government review of the data, during that time period, 71% of those arrested were subsequently detained, and 29% of those subsequently detained were apprehended for violent crimes.