30 Oct PROP 25—REFERENDUM ON BAIL REFORM—VOTE YES
By Community Coalition Action Fund’s Member-Led Committee:
Pastor Byron Smith
Proposition 25 replaces cash bail with risk assessments. It would lower the vote requirement necessary for each house of the Legislature to pass a budget bill from two-thirds to a majority (50 percent plus 1). The lower vote requirement would also apply to trailer bills that appropriate funds and are identified by the Legislature “as related to the budget in the budget bill.” The constitutional provisions of Proposition 25 do not address the two-thirds vote requirement for increasing state tax revenues, and the measure states that its intent is not to change that requirement regarding state taxes.
Proposition 25 would also prohibit members of the Legislature from collecting any salary or reimbursements in any year when the Legislature has failed to meet its June 15 deadline for sending a budget bill to the Governor. This prohibition would remain in effect from June 15 until the day the budget is presented to the Governor. The prohibited salaries and expenses could not be paid to legislators at a later date.
As of 2019, California utilized a cash bail system to free detained criminal suspects before their trials. Suspects paid a cash bond to be released from jail pending trial with the promise to return to court for trial and hearings. The cash bond was repaid to suspects after the criminal trials were completed, no matter the outcome. The Judicial Council of California, the rule-making department of the state’s judicial system, described bail as a tool to “ensure the defendant’s presence before the court.”
The state’s countywide superior courts were responsible for setting cash bail amounts for crimes, and judges were permitted to adjust the cash bail amounts upward or downward. Suspects could post bail with their own money or through a commercial bail bond agent, who pays the full bail amount in exchange for a non-refundable premium from suspects. In California, there was no law setting or capping premiums on bail bonds. According to the California Department of Insurance, agents typically charged around 10 percent.
Officials: Karen Bass – U.S. Representative | Ted Lieu – U.S. Representative | Toni Atkins – State Senate President | James Beall Jr. – State Senator | Bill Dodd – State Senator | Maria Elena Durazo, State Senator | Steve Glazer- State Senator | Robert Hertzberg – State Senator | Gerald Hill – State Senator | Hannah-Beth Jackson – State Senator | Connie Leyva – State Senator| Holly Mitchell – State Senator | Bill Monning – State Senator | Bob Wieckowski – State Senator | Scott Wiener – State Senator | Rob Bonta – Assemblymember | David Chiu – Assemblymember | Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher – Assemblymember | Todd Gloria – Assemblymember | Reginald Jones-Sawyer- Assemblymember | Sydney Kamlager – Assemblymember | Anthony Rendon – Speaker of the State Assembly | Darrell Steinberg (Nonpartisan) – Sacramento Mayor
Kevin de León (D) – Former State Senate President [Source] – Political Parties – California Democratic Party
Unions: California Teachers Association – SEIU California State Council
Organizations: Action Now Initiative – California Medical Association
Opponents say that politicians and special interests are promoting Proposition 25 to make it easier for politicians to raise taxes and restrict voters’ constitutional right to reject bad laws. They also claim that Proposition 25 would not punish politicians who would increase their lavish expense accounts. They fear that biases present in policing will continue to be perpetuated in a system that’s heavily based on defendants’ previous arrests. Meanwhile, proponents note that these tools are supposed to assist the courts, not serve as a replacement for making thoughtful decisions about release.
A “yes” vote is to uphold the contested legislation, Senate Bill 10 (S.B. 10), which would replace cash bail with risk assessments for detained suspects awaiting trials.
A “no” vote is to repeal the contested legislation, Senate Bill 10 (S.B. 10), thus keeping in place the use of cash bail for detained suspects awaiting trials.
Pros: Supporters say that Proposition 25 would reform California’s broken state budget process. They claim it would hold legislators accountable for late budgets by stopping their pay and benefits every day the budget is late. Supporters also say Proposition 25 would end budget gridlock by allowing a majority of legislators to pass the budget. They emphasize that it would not lower the two-thirds vote required to raise taxes.
Cons: Opponents say that politicians and special interests are promoting Proposition 25 to make it easier for politicians to raise taxes and restrict voters’ constitutional right to reject bad laws. Opponents claim that Proposition 25 would not punish politicians who would increase their lavish expense accounts. Opponents of assessment tools broadly fear that policing biases will continue to be perpetuated in a system that Is so heavily based on defendants’ previous arrests. Meanwhile, proponents note that these tools are supposed to assist the courts, not serve as a replacement for making thoughtful release decisions.
Why Does It Matter To South LA?
Proposition 25, if approved by voters, would replace cash bail with a new system of pretrial risk assessments. It is an attempt to treat people equally in our justice system regardless of their wealth or poverty. Although no system is perfect, but Proposition 25 deserves a “yes” vote.
This measure is a referendum on Senate Bill 10, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Oct. 1, 2018. Opponents immediately filed a referendum and qualified it for the ballot a few months later. That put the law on hold until voters decide whether to approve it. A “yes” vote enacts the law, and a “no” vote preserves the current system.
The current system’s problem is that innocent people can suffer life-destroying consequences if they are arrested and eligible for bail but lack the financial resources to pay thousands of dollars for a bail bond. While locked up for months before a trial, people can lose their jobs, fall behind on housing payments, and plunge into an even deeper financial hole. Those who can borrow money for a bail bond can suffer ongoing harm from the added debt burden.
Also, people would not be eligible for release if they were arrested for certain sex offenses, domestic violence, stalking, violating a restraining order, a third DUI or threatening a witness, or if the person had been convicted of a serious or violent felony in the last five years, or had violated the conditions of pretrial release in the past.
Poverty is not a crime, but for people arrested and cannot afford bail, it is punished as if it were.
Proposition 25 would benefit the community of South Los Angeles because it is primarily composed of African-American and Latino communities with minimal legal representation, resources, and finances to assist members of its community who are wrongfully incarcerated or who face criminal penalties for a minor offense.
Proposition 25 would enable the community of South Los Angeles to keep family and loved ones back to a state of not only freedom. Still, it would benefit the subjects’ next-of-kin and families from a debt beyond their means of affordability and disposition.