Overwhelming Majority of Judges Nationwide Disagree with Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye’s Ill-Conceived No-Money Bail Plan

Great news for criminals in California.  They already have Prop. 47 and 57 protecting them, AB 109 to get them out of jail very early, in San Diego juvenile criminals won’t even go to jail thanks to “restorative justice”, now the chief Justice of the California Supreme Court has promoted a NO cash bail system—use an algorithm and let someone out without bail.  This is the system illegal aliens use—get caught, told to attend a hearing in 3-4 years and then they disappear.

“Touted as providing for greater fairness, adopting the New Jersey system in California would not only create a public safety nightmare, it would require over $1 billion to implement.  Despite the claim that moving to no-money bail would save enormous amounts of taxpayer money, Cantil-Sakauye has already acknowledged that any such savings would not come close to providing the revenue to support it.

Of course, judges are more concerned about upholding the law than they are about fiscal matters.  So why did two-thirds of those polled come out against eliminating cash bail?  It might be best summarized by comments from one judge, which were included as part of the survey, “The bail system is a time-tested, fair, constitutional system of reducing jail population and the attendant costs to the county while ensuring the criminal defendant appears in court.  The idea of an individualized, ‘threat-based’ assessment of each defendant in our already overburdened courts is, at best, naïve and, at worst, dangerous.”

So, after spending one billion to protect criminals, you will be less safe.  This from someone supposed to uphold the law and protect us.  Criminal action?  Conspiracy?  Seems like the Chief Justice is part of the crime problems of California—and proud of it.

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Overwhelming Majority of Judges Nationwide Disagree with Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye’s Ill-Conceived No-Money Bail Plan

By Jeffrey J. Clayton, Executive Director, American Bail Coalition, California Political News and Views,  12/6/17

 

California Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye made headlines recently when she touted her shiny, new, no-money bail system.  Claiming extensive judicial support of her pet project, mostly lost in her grandstanding was the fact that the majority of judges were anything but positive about this core concept of bail reform.  In fact, in a recent national poll conducted by the National Judicial College, a resounding 69% of judges declared “no,” when asked if the money-based bail system should be eliminated.

Falling in line with the high-decibel calls to abolish bail from organizations including the Pretrial Justice Institute and the Arnold Foundation, Cantil-Sakauye has fixated on the contrived public hysteria over the notion of the inherent injustice of the money bail system.  Inexplicably, they share the unified ambition to emulate New Jersey’s newly-installed bail system, which has already shown to be at least controversial, if not an outright disaster.  It kicked-in on January 1 of this year and eliminated cash bail in favor of publicly-funded pretrial release.  However, it has since been cited as the cause of an increase in violent crime in the Garden State.

Touted as providing for greater fairness, adopting the New Jersey system in California would not only create a public safety nightmare, it would require over $1 billion to implement.  Despite the claim that moving to no-money bail would save enormous amounts of taxpayer money, Cantil-Sakauye has already acknowledged that any such savings would not come close to providing the revenue to support it.

Of course, judges are more concerned about upholding the law than they are about fiscal matters.  So why did two-thirds of those polled come out against eliminating cash bail?  It might be best summarized by comments from one judge, which were included as part of the survey, “The bail system is a time-tested, fair, constitutional system of reducing jail population and the attendant costs to the county while ensuring the criminal defendant appears in court.  The idea of an individualized, ‘threat-based’ assessment of each defendant in our already overburdened courts is, at best, naïve and, at worst, dangerous.”

 

When it comes down to it, the primary reason judges across the nation are adamantly against the abolishment of bail is remarkably straightforward: it works and works well.

More than one judge in the survey opined that other pretrial release methods such as signature bonds or return-on-own-recognizance did not deliver the same high-level results as secured bonds.  “Money talks, and it gets people to court,” commented one judge anonymously, a sentiment that was echoed by an overwhelming number of others who responded in the report.

Equally significant was the 31% of judges who answered “yes” to whether money-based bail should be ended.  Far from effusive in the support of their position, many actually hedged when asked to expound on their feelings.  The report indicated, “Many judges critical of money bail wrote that they favor modifying the system rather than abandoning it. Other judges prefer a hybrid system where they retain the option of setting money bail when necessary but can opt for other release and pre-trial programs as well.”

The use of risk algorithms embraced by Cantil-Sakauye in the setting of bail also came up as part of the report.  Judges expressed skepticism as to their effectiveness, with one writing, “The idea of an individualized, ‘threat-based’ assessment of each defendant in our already overburdened courts is, at best, naïve and, at worst, dangerous.”  The report concluded that “the software used for risk assessments is not reliable enough to make detention decisions.”

The present system of pretrial release should be modified as needed by examining and evaluating individual states and local jurisdictions — a premise with which more than two-thirds of judges are in agreement.  A possible component of this overhaul might be the creation of a hybrid system.  State and local policy-makers would look at dangerous defendants from the top-end of the system, while dealing with lower-level offenses from the bottom-end.

Other alternatives to bail include providing judges with the option of redirecting defendants to drug treatment or mental health facilities where applicable.  By doing so, judges could offer bona fide alternatives and move beyond simply working off a computer-generated score created by a risk assessment algorithm.

While perhaps well-meaning, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye lack of thorough research was in clear evidence when she chose to embrace the pro forma no-money bail language used in jurisdictions where it had already revealed its failings.  She compounded her poor decision-making by then delivering a nearly-identical report for California, warts and all.  She chose to ignore the fact that judges throughout the nation had already rejected the exact plan she was attempting to shove down the throats of citizens.  Judges — the men and women who know its possibly deadly ramifications better than anyone else — do not believe that no-money bail is the answer to bail reform.  We can only hope that elected officials in California can see with the same clarity if they are to fulfill the oaths they took to serve the best interests of their constituents.

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About Jeffrey Clayton, Executive Director of the American Bail Coalition:

 

Jeff Clayton joined the American Bail Coalition as Policy Director in May 2015. He has worked in various capacities as a public policy and government relations professional for fifteen years, and also as a licensed attorney for the past twelve years. Most recently, he worked as the General Counsel for the Professional Bail Agents of Colorado, in addition to serving other clients in legal, legislative, and policy matters. Jeff spent six years in government service, representing the Colorado State Courts and Probation Department, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, and the United States Secretary of Transportation. He is also a prior Presidential Management Fellow and Finalist for the U.S. Supreme Court fellows program. Mr. Clayton holds a B.B.A. from Baylor University, a M.S. (Public Policy) from the University of Rochester, N.Y., and a J.D. from the Sturm College of Law, University of Denver.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.