There are plenty of problems with the kind of one-party government California now has, with every statewide office in the hands of Democrats, who also hold two-thirds majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
It’s easier to pass taxes this way and budget discipline can be hard to find, to name just two. But the one-party dominance also allows for addressing some rank injustices after they’ve spent years as festering societal wounds.
Cash bail is one of those. Get arrested, whether you’re guilty of a crime or not, and there’s a good chance you’ll have to put up thousands of dollars in cash, real estate or other valuables to avoid spending many months in jail. One springtime report from the non-profit Human Rights Watch found that 459,847 persons were jailed in California for felony offenses between 2011 and 2015 — but never found guilty of any crime. They accounted for just under one-third of all arrests during that time and it cost California counties an average of $114 per day to keep them in custody, a total of more than $1 billion.
While a large majority of arrests were for good cause, hundreds of thousands were detained for days, weeks or months without good reason.
The average bail set in those cases approximated $50,000, with variances by county and by the type of crime involved. For many persons unable to come up with such a sum, bail bond agents are an answer. The agents often put up 10 percent of the bail amount for an accused person, and are responsible for the rest if the suspect jumps bail or does not turn up for scheduled court dates.
The accused (or friends and relatives) must pay that 10 percent, or $5,000 when bail is set at the typical…
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