This past week Los Angeles County reinstated a zero-cash bail policy for those arrested for most crimes. Practically what that means is that someone arrested for a smash-and-grab robbery, including the mob retail thefts plaguing Southern California, would be arrested, and then released back on to the streets within hours.
Those caught for these crimes would not have to post any monetary bail and the justice system will have to take their word that these arrestees will just show up to court because it’s the right thing to do.
To illustrate what impact this destructive and dangerous policy has had in communities across California, Yolo District Attorney Jeff Reisig, president of the California District Attorneys Association, presented a study on the zero-cash bail policy.
What his team found is that those who were released on zero bail committed 163% more crime than people who were released for the same offenses on traditional bail. And they committed 200% more violent crime.
These results speak for themselves.
I think we all are upset by the fact that under the zero-cash bail policy that a group of thieves arrested for storming and ransacking a local department store and endangering customers and employees would be quickly released back on to the streets.
However, there is also a genuine and justified fear that these individuals will quickly reoffend and commit another crime that injures or, even worse, kills some innocent victim.
Let me be clear, this isn’t about locking innocent people up and throwing away the key. That isn’t our justice system. But the justice system must work both ways and protect and keep the public safe, at the same time providing fairness for those arrested and accused.
And while there are those working overtime to reform and tilt the system for the benefit of criminals, they have completely forgotten about victims of crime, their families, and the fundamental role of our government to keep our neighborhoods and communities safe.
I’m hopeful and optimistic that the people will demand change. Solutions do exist that respect our justice system but ensure that families don’t feel unsafe going to the park or shop at the mall.
First, there is a legal challenge the zero-cash bail policy by 12 Los Angeles County cities including Arcadia, Artesia, Covina, Downey, Glendora, Industry, Lakewood, La Verne, Palmdale, Santa Fe Springs and Whittier. These 12 have filed a lawsuit to block the implementation of the zero-cash bail system.
Further, we need to reform Proposition 47, a law that makes it easier for smash-and-grab thieves and robbery mobs to get away with their crimes.
When I served in the state Assembly, I joined with Democratic and Republican colleagues as a principal co-author of three different proposed laws to make it more difficult for these smash-and-grab thieves to re-offend and commit more crimes.
Some members of the state Assembly felt our proposals were too tough on criminals. I think history demonstrates toughening our laws on these crimes was and is desperately needed to curb the wave of dangerous mob robberies.
So often when politicians on the news, at City Hall, or in our state Capitol debate tougher penalties for certain crimes, they forget about the victims. Crime victims and their families deserve better than what they are getting. I have spoken to so many victims who have had their privacy, safety, property and sense of personal security blown apart by a car theft, store robbery, or home burglary.
This is not the community or society any of us want to live in.
I am confident we can win back control of our safety, security and communities by reforming some of these misguided laws and policies. Giving law enforcement the tools to keep us safe shouldn’t be partisan, it certainly should not be controversial, and lowering crime by toughening our laws should be at the top of our local, state and federal priority list.
Suzette Martinez Valladares is Santa Clarita’s former assemblywoman, wife, girl mom, avid DIY’er and a monthly contributor to The Signal’s “Right, Here Right Now,” which appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.