By Maura Dolan
California’s judiciary recommended Tuesday that money bail for criminal defendants be replaced with risk assessment and supervision.
A group of 11 judges and one court executive appointed to study the issue last year by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said the current system of requiring suspects to post bail to obtain their freedom prior to trial compromises public safety.
Release should depend on an individual’s likelihood to commit new crimes, not on his or her financial resources, the group’s report said.
“If adopted, the reforms envisioned in these recommendations will make major and dramatic changes to California’s criminal justice system,” the report said.
Pretrial assessment would gather information about each defendant’s potential risk to the public and give judges more tools to supervise released defendants, including drug testing, home confinement and text reminders about future court dates, the report said.
Cantil-Sakauye, who previously called for bail reform, said she endorsed the recommendations. They are likely to serve as a framework for a new law expected to be passed and signed next year.
Ventura County Superior Court Judge Brian J. Back, a co-chair of the group, said requiring defendants to post money bail unfairly punishes the poor.
“Thousands of Californians who pose no risk to the public are held in jail before trial, while others charged with serious or violent offenses may pose a high risk and can buy their freedom simply by bailing out,” Back said.