A reform movement is growing, demanding changes to the bail system in California. Proponents say that bail schedule inconsistencies among various counties discriminate against the poor, resulting in overcrowded jails in poverty-stricken areas of the state. Here are details on how reforms may affect Orange County bail bonds.
Public Safety Realignment Act
California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Public Safety Realignment Act in 2011. The law reassigned responsibility of low-level offenders from the state to the county level, which potentially threatened to create overcrowding in county jails.
From 2010 to 2012, California’s prison population dropped by almost 30,000 individuals, marking a decrease of 12 percent. Yet jail inmates rose by 8,200 people. A Stanford study projects that by 2017 the prison population reduction since 2010 will amount to 5 percent.
In the last decade, the amount of bail bonds has increased by 22 percent, although the effects have varied in different counties. Bail reformers want to lower the statewide bail average by 31 percent, which could reduce the pretrial inmate population by 4 percent. This could mean a reduction of over 2,500 inmates per 100,000 residents.
The main drawback of reducing bail schedules is that it can lead to major public safety issues if pretrial evaluation programs overlook the risk factors for setting certain violent inmates free. Bail reform advocates want bail levels to be reduced, particularly in low income areas to avoid discrimination.
The goal to make Orange County bail bonds consistent with other counties, however, may not resolve the issue of overcrowded jails. Bail reductions may be more effective for counties that rely on bail for pretrial release and counties that stick closely with bail schedules.