California Lawmakers Push for Reforms to Bail System

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A Los Angeles County Sheriff's car drives past bail bonds businesses near the Men's Central Jail October 15, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: David McNew/Getty Images)

Over 60 percent of people in California jails haven't been convicted of a crime, but are in custody awaiting trial. That's led some state lawmakers and civil rights advocacy groups to push for reforms to the state's bail bonds system. Those pushing for change say that people shouldn't be detained simply because they can't afford bail and that the state's exorbitant bail rates push low-income defendants to accept plea bargains. But bail agents and district attorneys argue that such reforms could destroy a system that ensures people show up for trial and saves taxpayers money. Meanwhile in Santa Clara County, law enforcement has been cracking down on illegal bail bonds operations, where longtime inmates use the promise of cheap bail to funnel incoming inmates to certain bail bonds companies. In this hour of Forum, we discuss the current state of California's bail system and debate potential reforms.


Sukey Lewis, criminal justice reporter, KQED

Jeff Clayton, executive director and policy director, American Bail Coalition

Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, director of criminal justice & drug policy, ACLU of California

Assemblymember Rob Bonta, assemblymember, California's 18th District which includes Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro -