California Supreme Court ends cash bail for some who can’t pay

March 29, 2021

A unanimous vote in the California Supreme Court declared that judges must consider a defendant’s ability to pay bail.

More specifically, some lower-income defendants will no longer be able to be detained purely for their inability to afford bail. Instead, judges can require other forms of release like electronic monitoring or regular check-ins with authorities. Prosecutors can still argue for detainment if they believe the arrestee is likely to flee or dangerous.

However, this ruling doesn’t completely eliminate the cash bail. In fact, 56% of California voters voted against Proposition 25, a ballot measure focused on eliminating cash bail. Still, California Public Defenders Association President Jennifer Friedman said she hoped that this ruling would be a “major sea change, and that no one will be in custody unless it has been shown by clear and convincing evidence there are no alternatives that will ensure the person returns to court.”

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California Supreme Court ends cash bail for some who can’t pay