On average, bail is set at $50,000 in California. Generally, defendants must post 10% to “make bail” and stay out of jail until trial. Studies show that 46% of people do not have even $400 in their emergency fund. Thus, even for those defendants for whom bail is set at $1000, much less than the average, it can be very difficult to make bail. This dynamic has resulted in jail populations made up of predominately those defendants who are awaiting trial, not those who have been convicted. Indeed, roughly 66% of California’s jail population is merely awaiting trial.
In addition to the loss of freedom, such pretrial detention can cause defendants to lose property, jobs, and even their children. Moreover, lengthy pretrial detention has been shown to increase the chances of recidivism once defendants are released. Although many of these defendants pose no public safety threat or flight risk, because they simply cannot afford bail, they remain in custody. To lower jail populations and detain before trial only those defendants who pose a public safety threat or flight risk, SB 10 creates agencies in each county that would individually assess each defendant’s public safety and flight risk and then make a bail recommendation to the judge based on that assessment. Today on the podcast, Kyle Harrison joins Tyler to talk about SB 10.