In this episode of “Did they really need a study to figure this out?” a California county District Attorney realizes that zero cash bail policy invites more crime. In fact, of those released via the policy, 70% went on to commit additional crimes, resulting in rearrests. Not only did they commit additional crimes, but many were violent in nature.
Study Shows that the Zero Cash Bail Policy Doesn’t Work
In a not-so-surprising twist, the “equitable” $0 bail policy experiment turns out to be a failure. Shocking, I know. A study out of Yolo County, California, finds that letting criminals go under their own recognizance invites more crime. Specifically, 70% of those released went on to re-offend.
According to Fox News, “Of the 595 individuals released on $0 bail between 2020 and 2021 in Yolo County, 420 — or 70.6% — were rearrested for new crimes, and 123 — or 20% — were arrested for a violent crime such as murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery, carjacking or domestic violence, according to Reisig’s office.”
The California Judicial Council adopted the policy in April 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea was that it would reduce the jail population and prevent further spread throughout the jail system. As a result, those with misdemeanor and lower-level felony charges could go free while awaiting trial.
Although the California Judicial Council rescinded the order in June 2020, some counties, like Yolo, kept it in place. In fact, Yolo County extended it for an entire year and learned an important lesson.
The Sacramento Bee writes, “’When over 70% of the people released under mandated $0 bail policies go on to commit additional crimes, including violent offenses such as robbery and murder, there is simply no rational public safety-related basis to continue such a practice post-pandemic, especially in light of the increasing violent crime rates across California,’ Reisig said in a statement.”
A Lesson Learned on a Broader Scale
As it turns out, two other California counties continued the policy even longer than Yolo County. Both Los Angeles and San Diego counties continued the policy halfway through 2022. However, they realized that it might work as planned.
San Diego County was the first to rescind the policy.
CBS8 San Diego reported back in May 2022, “A policy that reduced certain misdemeanor offenses to zero bail throughout the San Diego County jail system, which was instituted to reduce the overall jail population during the COVID-19 pandemic, will be rescinded as of Sunday, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said Friday.”
Suffering a related problem to Yolo County, Los Angeles County allowed its policy to expire on July 1, 2022. According to the Los Angeles Police Department as of June 25, 2022, there were 649 zero bail policy re-arrests. Those are 649 incidents that law enforcement should have been dealing with other cases.
In a release from the LAPD, the department states, “The pandemic pushed Los Angeles County to instate a “zero bail” policy which issued a modified bail schedule providing “zero bails” for individuals accused of low-level offenses, infractions, misdemeanors, and some felony offenses as a way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infections in pre-trial incarcerations and to reduce the local jail population. This zero-bail policy expired on July 1, 2022.”
The True Nature of Zero Cash Bail Policies
I would love to believe that this really was about the pandemic and things will return to normal. But that’s a bit hard, given the blatant evidence to the contrary. During this same time, BLM and Antifa were burning and looting our cities with complete disregard to social distancing and lockdowns. The same people pushing zero bail policies due to COVID celebrated these riots.
To understand what this is really about, let’s hear it in their own words.
The CBS8 story goes on to read, “’The bail system, in general, is very classist and impacts people of color more heavily,’ said Yusef Miller with the North County Equity and Justice Coalition. He believes the cash bail system as a whole is rigged against poor people who cannot afford to bail out while favoring those who can.”
In fact, this goes back to before the pandemic. Before she was Vice President, Kamala Harris penned an op-ed with Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) for the New York Times. The 2017-piece reads:
“Excessive bail disproportionately harms people from low-income communities and communities of color. Bail is supposed to ensure that the accused appear at trial and don’t commit other offenses in the meantime.”
Also, in 2019 Harris tweeted:
Unfortunately, this is not going away, they are just going to keep pushing it. According to CBS8, a recent California Supreme Court ruling holds that courts must consider an individual’s ability or inability to pay bail when considering a bail order remains in place.
It’s hard to believe that anyone considers criminals trustworthy enough to come back for trial. But this is where we are now. Our criminal justice system is defective, favoring criminals over law-abiding citizens.
Look alive and stay safe out there. Because they just won’t learn.