Supes follow courts’ lead toward shrinking cash bail

Los Angeles County Seal.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took steps toward making bail in the county more affordable during Tuesday’s regular meeting.

The board approved a motion aimed at implementing the California Supreme Court’s Humphrey decision, which ruled cash bail is “unconstitutional” for those who can’t afford it.

Under the ruling, judges must consider factors, such as the seriousness of charges and past criminal history, to set bail at an amount the defendant can afford.

The motion instructs the district attorney to consult with relevant departments, such as the Sheriff’s Department, county Superior Court and California attorney general, to report back to the board with ways to implement the ruling, while protecting the constitutional rights of accused people and promoting public safety.

District Attorney George Gascón, in a statement issued Tuesday, commended the board on making the elimination of cash bail a priority on the county, which he noted is vital to addressing historic inequities in the criminal justice system.

“Together, we will end an unjust practice that allows some people to purchase their freedom no matter how dangerous they may be,” Gascón wrote in the prepared statement. “Meanwhile, people who are not considered dangerous are kept behind bars while awaiting trial simply because they cannot afford to post bail. That imbalance harms not only individuals who may lose jobs, housing and families while incarcerated, but also shakes the stability of entire communities of color, whose members are disproportionately affected by these long-standing practices.”

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