The Human Cost of Zero Bail
In 2020 California voters resoundingly rejected a state law eliminating cash bail for most people arrested for crimes. Yet in Los Angeles and San Francisco thousands of arrestees are routinely released without bail. A piece by Thomas Elias in the Napa Valley Register discusses the no-bail policy implemented by Los Angeles DA George Gascon. Under Gascon “Offenses legally defined as nonviolent and non-serious including things like solicitation to commit murder, many felony assaults, felony domestic violence resulting in a traumatic condition, resisting a peace officer, molesting a child over 15 and sexual penetration of a mentally or developmentally disabled person” will be released without bail. “Most Californians would consider any of these crimes both serious and violent,” notes Elias. “Most folks would probably also believe a suspect arrested for sucker-punching an elderly Asian woman in a hate crime may have committed a serious offense. But that suspect would be freed pending trial if deputies follow Gascon’s orders.”
Elias believes that the no-bail issue is key to the effort to recall Gascon. I don’t disagree, but think that the crimes being committed by criminals released without bail across California may also be driving the effort to recall Governor Gavin Newsom as well. On Saturday, September 4, Sacramento police arrested 51-year-old Troy Davis for the September 3rd sexual assault and murder of Land Park woman, killing her dogs and setting her home on fire. Katie Grimes of the California Globe reports that Davis may be among the 76,000 prison inmates who became eligible for early release by Governor Newsom’s new policy of granting increased good behavior credits. In June Davis was arrested for auto theft and, because stealing a car is not considered serious or violent crime, he was released without bail. The Land Park woman is most likely dead because of those policies.
As Ms Grimes reports, the California Legislature is currently doing an end-around on the voters rejection of zero-bail last November. SB262 (Hertzberg, D Los Angeles) the “Safe and Resilient Communities Act” would eliminate or drastically reduce bail based upon an arrestee’s ability to pay, meaning no bail for most criminals. The bill cleared the Senate last May.
Let’s hope that enough Californians have become aware of what’s going on and who’s responsible to begin voting the bums out of office.