Pros and Cons of California Proposition 25
California Proposition 25 is a call for a referendum seeking to replace cash bail with risk assessments. A “yes” vote will imply upholding Senate Bill 10 (SB 10) to replace Cash bail with risk assessment while a “no” means rejecting Senate Bill 10 (SB 10).
One advantage of replacing cash bail with risk assessment is that it will make the justice system nondiscriminatory even for the poor citizens, who often get held in jail before their trial. Locking offenders in prisons, particularly minor offenders, increase their chances of losing a job and even pleading guilty even if they are innocent. The majority of the poor people end up in debt because of borrowing the bail money from guarantors. Wealthier people, on the one hand, can buy their way in the corridors of justice irrespective of the charges, whether murder or robbery or shoplifting (Schuppe, 2020). As such, cash bail results in a discriminative justice system.
Eliminating cash bail will also lessen the overcrowding in the correctional systems. Study shows that the US has the highest number of people apprehended pre-trial than any other nation in the world. About 70% of suspects are held in local jails are under pre-trial. They are detained at the point when they are still presumed innocent. Many of them remain in custody because they cannot afford to raise the cash bail themselves. The risk assessment approach will help to reduce the overcrowding of correctional facilities (Engler, 2018). Efficiency in processing cases also increases with a reduction in the jail population, and the state also saves on expenditures associated with holding people in jails such as feeding expenses.
Besides, research reveals that the present cash bail system causes severe damage to the suspects and their families than the advantage. Being jailed can destabilize the detainee’s activities, including losing the children’s custody or a job (Engler, 2018). Detainees who were previously working in low-level jobs such as restaurants are likely to lose their jobs, which may turn them into criminals again.
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Opponents of ending cash bail have noted that offenders arrested and charged with a crime but are presumed innocent or not convicted pose a danger to society in some cases. Most of them are likely to commit the crime again. For instance, barely less than a week after New York passed a law restraining cash bail; lawmakers have a second thought on the policy. This came about following the stories that most suspects set free without bail committing new crimes, including the case of a woman suspect of an anti-Semitic attack in New York City (Engler, 2018). Therefore, eliminating cash bail suggests putting public safety in jeopardy.
However, despite some opposition to California Proposition 25 to replace the cash bail with assessment, the bill may likely have more benefits than the demerits. Cash bail has acted as a tool of compulsion in the criminal justice systems for decades. However, the study shows that cash most often forces people who would not have otherwise plead guilty to do so even if they are innocent. A report by the “New York City Criminal Justice Agency” in 2012 bears this out. The information was based on criminal statistics gathered for ten years. It indicated that in non-felony cases where the defendant was not detained pre-trials because they could pay the cash bail or no bail was set, only 50% were eventually convicted. However, the conviction rate hopped to 95% when defendants were detained awaiting trials because they could not raise the cash bail. (Engler, 2018). The study suggests cash bail and pre-trial detention create pressure forcing even the innocent citizens to plead guilty of a crime. It is a hindrance to equal justice, and therefore, a “yes” vote for Cons of California Proposition 25 is paramount.
Schuppe, J. (2020). Fair or dangerous? Days after ending cash bail, New York has second thoughts. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/fair-or-dangerous-days-after-ending-cash-bail-new-york-n1111346
Engler, M. (2018). Should We End Cash Bail? https://www.morningsidecenter.org/teachable-moment/lessons/should-we-end-cash-bail