Do you remember SB10? It was passed in 2018 and sold to voters as a way to deal with the “unfair” bail system. What it actually did was give more power to judges, more money for probation departments, and end the use of money bail. In place of money bail, judges would be granted much broader powers regarding a defendant’s freedom. They would even have the power to hold defendants indefinitely and for any reason they chose.
Aside from powerful judges and expanded probation departments, SB10 requires all California courts to use a racially-biased algorithm-based risk assessment tool. It’s the tool that would determine a defendant’s risk and whether or not they are eligible to even be released from jail at all. Multiple agencies have studied the algorithm and it’s potential outcomes and noted that it tended to grossly over-incarcerate people of color as opposed to white people.
Prop 25 is being put on the ballot this year as a referendum regarding SB10. If prop 25 passes, bail will be eliminated and an even worse system will take its place. A system where the judge has the power to hold anyone on “preventive detention” (i.e. indefinite incarceration) until their trial date, depriving them of the right to obtain legal counsel on their own or to take the necessary preparations if they expect to spend time in custody.
Proposition 25 would also lead to a slew of guilty pleas by defendants who just want to get out of jail – not because they’re actually guilty. According to the Human Rights Watch, 70 to 90 percent of people accused of low-level felonies and misdemeanors plead guilty to be released before their first possible trial date. This means that the individual would spend more time in jail waiting for their trial than the actual sentence they would serve if convicted.
Voting NO on Prop 25 will eliminate the disastrous changes that SB10 would surely bring. It will keep racist algorithms from disproportionately jailing people of color, and it will keep judges from indiscriminately jailing anyone they please.
The current bail system allows arrestees the opportunity to be released from jail quickly by posting a bail bond. Currently, bail bondsmen are in charge of keeping track of defendants released on bail as well as tracking down those who choose to run. Should bail be eliminated, additional police will likely be necessary in order to take these tasks over from bail bondsmen. The cost of new personnel, as well as the cost of keeping all of those people in custody unnecessarily, will be borne by you, the taxpayer. Vote NO on prop 25.