California lawmakers considering controversial bill that would r - KUSI News - San Diego, CA

California lawmakers considering controversial bill that would reform bail system

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SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Lawmakers in Sacramento are considering a bill that would reform the bail system.

Proponents say the current system penalizes people who are locked up waiting for trial, but don't have the money to get out of jail.

There's been a lot of talk about reforming the criminal justice system this year. California state lawmakers will be asked to look at one aspect of the system: how and when a person can get out jail before they go to court.

For most people accused of a serious crime, a judge will set a cash bond, the money required to get out of jail. If you don't have the money, you can turn to a bail bonds agent, someone who will put up the cash for you and get you out of jail with the promise that you will show up for your court date. In return, you or your family agree to pay the bail agency an 8 to 10 percent fee.

Under a new bill, Assembly Bill 42, the current bail system would be scrapped and it would be up to judge to decide if someone should be released on their own recognizance or kept behind bars because they are too dangerous to be set free.

Supporters say this will keep people who can't afford bail from being stuck in jail, regardless of guilt.

The legislation is strongly opposed by the bail bonds industry. Stefan Gibbs, owner of All-Pro Bail bonds, warns that the legislation will lengthen the time that many defendants stay in jail. Gibbs says that they will have to wait for the court to do an assessment to decide if they can be set free.

Gibbs says that evaluation will have to be done by more people hired by the county courts, resulting in more costs to the county and ultimately the state.

Gibbs does favor some changes in the current bail system. He'd like to see more uniform bail, so that a defendant faces the same bail requirements across the state.

The bill has already passed committees in the state senate and state assembly. The next hurdle is the appropriations committee.

Besides the bail bonds industry, the legislation is opposed by a number of law enforcement officials, including the district attorneys in San Diego and Los Angeles and the California District Attorneys' Association.

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