This week, Senate Bill 262, the zero bail bill, was shelved for the year by its author, Sen. Bob Hertzberg, after the recent horrific rape and murder of Sacramento resident Kate Tibbitts by a perpetual felon out on zero bail for his last offense. “A “homeless” transient guy out on the streets despite his recent violation of parole, has been arrested for raping and murdering a Sacramento woman in the Land Park neighborhood Friday, killing her dogs and setting her house on fire,” the Globe reported Monday. “Troy Davis, 51 (aka Troy Davies), a parolee at large, was also let out on zero bail in June for stealing a car, even with his long history of violent crimes, and having recently been in prison for a violent felony.”
To understand what zero bail is, many District Attorneys and Assistant District Attorneys have gone on the record with media to explain how anti-criminal justice this concept is. One bail agent told the Globe that legislators want to kill the (bail) industry, while making it seem like judges retain discretion for bail, but they don’t because of the language about defendants’ “ability to pay.”
In 2020, Yolo County Assistant District Attorney Melissa Aeillo explained:
“It’s a get out of jail free card,” Aeillo said. “There’s no real risk assessment done and there’s no consequences because they’re not even brought back to court for four to five months.” She noted that zero bail poses a risk to public safety.
This California bail agent agrees that zero bail doesn’t work:
This article was published in Sept 2020. Clearly ZERO BAIL wasn’t working. Yet in January 2021 — SB262 was rolled out of Bob Hertzberg’s House of Horrors. We have lawmakers in CA out of touch with reality. @SchubertForAG @CASenatorJim https://t.co/D10yc2heay
— Bail Bond Woman (@SDBAILBONDWOMAN) September 10, 2021
As for the Tibbitts rape and murder, Sacramento’s KCRA3 published an article Friday evening disputing that Tibbitts murderer was out on zero bail by blaming the police, claiming “Multiple sources, including the arresting department — Elk Grove police — have confirmed that Davis’ parole officer was not notified of his arrest.”
As the Globe reported, “A judge let him out with zero bail on his own recognizance, and then he failed to appear, becoming a ‘parolee at large.’”
Being out on one’s “own recognizance” is the same as zero bail. It’s a word game.
But it’s more insidious than that according to bail agents. The Globe was told by bail agents that a number of California counties assumed SB262 would pass and become law January 1, 2022. A Bail Agent observed in one county they were training dozens of people for Pretrial Services last week. “SEIU support these bills because it benefits them. Probation Departments hire the Pretrial Services people – Hourly employees with no Power to Arrest (Bail Agents do – and we’re licensed), screen every incoming Arrestee at our jails determining if they can be released from jail on O.R. [own recognizance] without posting bail,” one bail agent told the Globe. “They just have no idea what they’re doing. Nor do they care. It’s an hourly job. Public Safety and Victims Rights aren’t their problem. Just get them out of the jail as soon as possible.”
The bail agent said pretrial services employees are pressured to release defendants, regardless of whether they are dangerous.
The KCRA3 article also said:
In a Facebook post, Sheriff Scott Jones said, ‘the suspect was arrested this summer for a felony and then unceremoniously released under the darling of social justice warriors—’zero bail.'” He goes on to say, “Another factor is the politics of the Judicial Council which, not letting a good crisis go to waste, decided that ‘because of COVID’ criminals should be let out all over the state with ‘zero bail.'”
Here is what Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones posted on Facebook:
Let me be clear where the blame lies: Liberal, anti-public-safety policies. It started years ago with the desire to keep more people out of jail and get them out sooner once they get there. That, however, brings with it the absolute certainty that with more criminals on the street there will be more victims, and we have seen violent crime skyrocket over recent years. The present and previous governors by executive fiat have eviscerated sentencing enhancements and the three strikes law, and greatly broadened sentence credits. This has resulted in tens of thousands of criminals released instantly and early with little or no supervision.
Lastly, and most poignantly, the social justice agenda of California’s liberal legislature. It’s hard to blame the pandemic for zero bail, since the legislature tried to codify zero bail way back in 2017 in their ongoing zeal to decriminalize crime, in both the Assembly AND the Senate. It failed, but they resurrected it in 2018 and it passed, and was quickly signed by the Governor. Public safety leaders and victim advocates all over the state were outraged (I personally penned an op-ed in opposition), and led an effort to reverse the law by the initiative process. It qualified easily for the ballot and in 2020, the concept of zero bail was soundly rejected by the voters. A rare victory in California for public safety, but the social justice warriors on the far left did not rest.
Incredibly, as I write this, the legislature—despite its complete rejection last year by voters—has introduced an even broader bill that basically brings back zero bail for California (SB262)! Make no mistake, the majority party in the legislature does not care about the will of voters, about victims, or about public safety. Any legislator in the majority party that deflects blame or doesn’t acknowledge their part in this travesty is a liar. They could have prevented the murder of Mary Tibbitts, but they didn’t. They could prevent the next Mary Tibbitts, but they won’t. Shame on all of them.
The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office issued an informational press statement Friday about zero bail, and how it became a policy:
Over the last several days, there have been many questions about Zero Bail and the release of individuals from custody. In the interest of informing the public about these policies, the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office is providing the following information.
In April 2020, the California Judicial Council adopted an emergency zero bail schedule in response to Covid-19. This emergency bail schedule authorized zero bail for all misdemeanor crimes as well as a multitude of felony crimes. Zero bail means that the individual is released without posting any bail and is released on his/her own recognizance (OR) without any supervision or conditions of release. The Judicial Council rescinded this order in June 2020 but urged local courts to continue these emergency measures.
In June 2020, the Sacramento Superior Court adopted its own zero bail schedule, following the recommendations of the Judicial Council. This zero bail schedule allowed for zero bail on all misdemeanors and many felonies, including certain gun crimes.
The Sacramento District Attorney’s Office has been attempting to track those individuals who have been arrested and released on zero bail/OR from the Sacramento County jail. Based on data from both the Sheriff’s Department and the Sacramento Superior Court, it is estimated that 5,100 individuals have been released on zero bail/OR from March 18, 2020, through September 1, 2021. Of those released, over 1,700 individuals have been re-arrested after release. Some have been re-arrested and released multiple times, including individuals re-arrested and released over 10 times. The total number of re-arrests is over 4,400.
The Sacramento District Attorney’s Office has received complaints from various groups, including numerous business partnership organizations, about chronic low-level offenders committing a variety of crimes, including drugs, vandalism, trespassing and fires on their properties. These individuals have been arrested, re-arrested and released on multiple occasions. These crimes impact public safety, affect the quality of life of our citizens and often present significant impediments to those conducting business in our community.
The Sacramento DAs included examples where individuals were released on zero bail and re-arrested for serious and violent crimes:
27 individuals have been convicted of felony domestic violence (a “nonviolent” crime under the penal code) after having been released on zero bail.
In May 2020, Kayshaun Slaton was arrested for several felonies, including a high-speed pursuit and possession of a fully automatic ghost gun. These crimes involve allegations that Slaton was involved in a high-speed pursuit, crashed the car he was driving and then fled on foot. Located in the car was a fully automatic .40 caliber ghost gun with a 30-round magazine. Under the zero bail schedule, Slaton qualified for zero bail release at booking. While on zero bail, Slaton is accused of committing murder on the afternoon of December 14, 2020, wherein he shot the victim with another fully automatic .40 caliber handgun with an extended magazine, firing off 23 rounds in less than two seconds.
In May 2020, Ajan Vaughn was convicted of felony evading and possession of a loaded firearm. He was released on felony probation in June 2020. On December 29, 2020, he was arrested during a probation search for being a felon in possession of ammunition. He was released on zero bail/OR on December 30, 2020, due to the emergency bail schedule. On March 21, 2021, Vaughn is alleged to have encountered a rival in another parked car, walked up to him and shot 8 rounds into the car, killing the victim.
In July 2020, Ezell Thomas was arrested for possession of a loaded 9mm handgun with a 40-round high-capacity magazine in a car. Thomas was released with zero bail due to the emergency bail schedule. He then failed to appear in September 2020 and a warrant was issued for his arrest. On May 11, 2021, Thomas was arrested after his 4-year-old child found Thomas’ unsecured gun on a bed and accidentally shot himself in the arm. Thomas has been convicted and sentenced to prison for both the original loaded firearm in the vehicle and felony child cruelty cases.
In May 2021, after concerns were raised by the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office, the Sacramento Superior Court amended its emergency bail schedule to address chronic nuisance offenders and certain gun offenses.
Summing up this entire zero bail and heinous rape/murder of an innocent woman, California Bail Agents Association lobbyist David Quintana said this to the Globe: “While we are glad that Sen Hertzberg realized he did not have the support of the Assembly for ‘zero bail,’ we are frustrated that it took one more senseless murder for legislators to slow this crazy train down. The tide is turning and the people of California are standing up and pushing back by on this ‘reform’ that has left misery in our communities in its wake.”
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