Letters to the Editor

Bail laws are unfair to poor Californians, and it’s time to change them

The League of Women Voters urges support for SB 10, which seeks to fix California’s broken bail system. Currently 46,000 Californians are in county jails because they cannot make bail. While wealthy defendants can secure their own release, poor defendants cannot. Poor Californians are sitting in jail for weeks, months, even years awaiting trial, all the while at risk of losing their jobs, their homes and even their children.

SB 10 prioritizes public safety by instructing counties to institute a risk assessment protocol to determine if an individual is a threat to society or a flight risk, to release low-risk suspects without conditions or with nonmonetary conditions (such as home monitoring), and to maintain the use of bail when appropriate, but set bail at a rate that will ensure a return to court.

Releasing low-risk defendants pending trial is just plain fair. It lessens the burden on our jails, keeps families from falling deeper into poverty and ensures defendants who want to plead not guilty at trial are not pressured into pleading guilty to a low level felony just so they can return home. SB 10 has passed the state Senate. We ask everyone concerned about the injustice of our bail system to contact Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham and urge him to support SB 10.

Ann Havlik and Marilee Hyman, co-presidents, League of Women Voters of San Luis Obispo County