Our Justice Agenda: Ending Cash Bail

By: SEIU Local 2015

After a hard day of work, our members still go home to yet another challenge — facing the realities that trouble their communities and significantly impact their quality of life. Hence, SEIU 2015 has declared its commitment to some of the top issues that impact our members at home and in their communities.

This is why we are committed to a broader justice agenda aimed at addressing environmental, economic, and social injustice. Right now, we have a unique opportunity in California to take on restorative justice, reduce unnecessary incarceration, and increase fairness in our judicial system by eliminating cash bail.

Recently, California’s Senator Kamala Harris and Kentucky’s Rand Paul introduced a bipartisan bill to reform and end cash bail nationwide. Here in California, a bill — SB 10 — which would replace cash bail with pre-trial programs — such as phone call check ins — is presently in front of the State Assembly.

If passed, California would join states like Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, and counties like Santa Clara in offering pre-trial supervision in place of money bail. These experiments have restored fairness, improved attendance at court appearances, and protected public safety. We can do that here too — if we pass SB 10.

Our state has so many important policy priorities to fund that it makes no sense to waste precious and limited resources keeping people in jail, when they have not been convicted of any crimes. Across California, more than 60% of people in our jails are awaiting court dates, costing us an estimated $5 million a day.

Not only is pre-trial detention incredibly expensive, it is deeply unfair and goes against the notion of equal justice under the law. Rich defendants — who have the ability to post bail — are allowed to roam free — regardless of any public safety threat. At the same time, low-income defendants, who are not considered a threat to public safety, must languish in jail until their case is adjudicated.

There is a better way. For a fraction of the cost of pre-trial detention, California can provide supervision and services that help people get to court and keep communities safer, too.

SB 10, a bill that would reform the broken money bail system, is now before the state Assembly. This bill would save money that is currently being wasted and reserve space in our jails that are better used on violent offenders.

Please contact the Office of Speaker Rendon at 916–319–2063 and tell him to support this bill.