In an unprecedented move that may have implications beyond the Bay Area, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced he will not defend the use of the county’s monetary bail system in a federal class-action lawsuit that claims it is unconstitutional.
In a Tuesday court filing, Herrera argued that the current bail system, mandated by state law and set by individual counties, unfairly affects poor people.
In a press conference, Herrera said monetary bail "creates a two-tiered system, one for those with money and another for those without. It doesn't make anybody safer, it's not right, and it’s not in keeping with the constitution."
In February, the Public Policy Institute of California cited data from State Court Processing Statistics (SCPS) showing California’s median bail amount in 2015 was $50,000.
The Washington, D.C.-based organization Equal Justice Under Law filed the lawsuit last year against San Francisco and California on behalf of two low-income women who were arrested and held on large bails, but never charged.