California’s Top Judge Stands Against Cash Bail Practices

By Sameer Rao Oct 24, 2017

If it were up to California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, her state would eliminate discriminatory cash bail practices for those awaiting trial. She expressed her support for a new judicial report that recommends replacing the cash bail system.

"I support the conclusion that California’s current pre-trial system unnecessarily compromises victim and public safety," Cantil-Sakauye said in the announcement, which accompanied today’s (October 24) release of the report. Cantil-Sakauye convened a workgroup of state judges last year with the goal of examining the state’s money bail system. The report calls for the country’s most populous state to replace cash bail with pre-trial risk assessment tools that the workgroup believes can better determine if a person needs to stay in jail while awaiting trial.

The Associated Press notes that the new report is part of a larger statewide push to end cash bail, which critics say disproportionately forces poor people of color into jail for unknown trial wait periods. State senators recently introduced a bill that, if passed, would replace cash bail with a risk assessment similar to the tools proposed in the judicial report. 

Criminal justice reform activists of color are leading movements on the federal, state and local levels to eliminate cash bail and its racist disparities. A report from The Pew Charitable Trusts earlier this year notes that some states, including Maryland and New Jersey, have reformed their pre-trial practices to eliminate cash bail for all but the most serious offenses.