Sacramento — On Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, the First District Court of Appeal of California issued a ruling casting further doubt on the constitutionality of money bail and holding significant implications for statewide bail reform in California.
Specifically, the court declared it is a violation of defendants’ 14th Amendment rights to detain them pretrial without critical due process protections.
The following statement on the case brought by Civil Rights Corps and the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office can be attributed to Bail Reform California:
The Court of Appeal ruling on Humphrey on Habeas Corpus represents an unambiguous indictment of the existing money bail system and a significant call for reform.
The ruling will have an immediate impact on how courts use and set money bail moving forward, and highlights the urgent need for systemic reforms at the statewide level — a task only the California Legislature can complete.
We maintain California’s existing money bail system unfairly penalizes the poor and fails to keep Californians safe. The Court of Appeals now joins Governor Jerry Brown, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the California State Senate, bail reform advocates and public safety groups in sharing this assessment.
We are particularly struck by the Court's citation of no less a keen observer of American criminal procedures than Alexis De Tocqueville who, the ruling cites "observed in 1835 that our bail system is 'hostile to the poor, and favorable only to the rich. The poor man has not always a security to produce ... ; and if he is obligated to wait for justice in prison, he is speedily reduced to distress. A wealthy person, on the contrary, always escapes imprisonment ... Nothing can be more aristocratic than this system of legislation.'"
We are reminded that reform of our flawed money bail system is not decades, but in fact centuries in the making. The time for bail reform in California is now.