By: Jason Deng

On Tuesday, August 28, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Money Bail Act, changing how the jailing system works and causing the “soon-to-be” collapse of the bail industry. This act will reform the bail system, with a goal of the rich and poor being treated fairly. It puts the public’s safety first, and “rank” second. Furthermore, this bill will make California the first state to entirely abolish bail bonds, money payments, or investments that can be used to get out of jail.  

First and foremost, how did the bail bill come to be? It was opposed by many people, especially government criticizers, and considered as a “big” change to the jailing system. Despite the oppositions, people, such as Senator Bob Hertzberg, continued to make the act possible. Nevertheless, this 2 year long effort started by Senator Hertzberg has been worth it to supporters of the bill because of “the extra safety it provides to the Californians.” For example, one of the bill’s characteristics, ranking the threat of a defendant during a pretrial assessment, prevents people from buying their freedom, especially the wealthy. However, it didn’t resolve racial equity, an affair that is pressing to the American Civil Liberties Union. Since the bill didn’t address this rapidly growing issue, the ACLU withdrew its support for the act, considering that the the bill might present more losses than gains. Other organizations, such as the bail industry and criminal justice reformers, opposed this act from the start because of flaws in the newly reformed system. One of the flaws was the loss of money from the fall of the bail industry. Another was the fact that jails could become too full. With all of these flaws, the Money Bail Act isn’t looking as good as it was originally.  

Overall, the bill was initially supported as a beneficial law that enhanced the safety of the public and implemented fair trials that weren’t determined by money. However, as it was considered, the bill lost its gainful guise and actually could cause more problems and losses to the system and the people.