Zero bail was rejected by California voters in 2020, but introduced as legislation in January 2021 by Sen. Bob Hertzberg as Senate Bill 262, and is ironically named the “Safe and Resilient Communities Act.”
Hertzberg denies that SB 262 is “zero bail,” and now many in the media are reporting the same.
However, many District Attorneys and Assistant District Attorneys have gone on the record with media to explain how anti-criminal justice this concept is. 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.
So what does Hertzberg’s bill do?
We asked bail agents about bail, and how SB 262 would impact their bail businesses.
“SB 262 will set bail at ZERO for nonviolent misdemeanors and felonies. That’s ZERO BAIL,” a bail agent explained.
“Does he have any idea how Surety Bail works? We take a RISK for the FULL amount of every bond we write, and the time we wait for the jails to clear a Defendant for bail,” the bail agent said.
“It can take anywhere from 6 hours to 24 hours or more. If there’s a HOLD we continue working these bonds. We’re involving families and friends securing the bonds. We’re running credit cards at our expense with rates as high as 4.5% right now. If we return the Premium as Hertzberg proposes, our time and expense won’t be covered by 10%. And we have to pay the Surety Bond Costs for every bond we write. That’s not refundable.”
The Bail Agent continued:
“The purpose of SB262 is to run every Bail Agent and Surety out of California.”
“Without Surety Bail in CA the Defendants in custody will only have CASH BAIL or remain in custody as their choices. Who has $50k in Cash for a Felony Domestic Violence charge?”
This will cost MILLIONS for CA Taxpayers. Jail overcrowding and Defendants released on own recognizance — that’s why the family of Kate Tibbitts are reaching out.”
Sen. Hertzberg pulled SB 262 last fall after “homeless” transient Troy Davis, out on the streets despite his recent parole violation, raped and murdered downtown Sacramento resident Kate Tibbitts, in the Land Park neighborhood, killing her dogs and setting her house on fire,” the Globe reported.
“Hertzberg has said on the record Surety Bail threatens Public Safety because if you have enough money you can buy your freedom and go back home to abuse your wife again,” the bail agent said. “Hertzberg is WRONG. Our job is make sure defendants show up for court. A guarantee they make all of their court appearances. If a Defendant is a threat to the Victim, Public Safety or a Flight Risk, bail would be very high or No Bail.”
“Hertzberg called our Bail Bonds ‘a Bail Deposit.’ That’s incorrect. Surety Bail is an Insurance Policy. Premium is collected for the bond which is EARNED upon release of the defendant from custody. Premium is nonrefundable. Defendants and Indemnitors sign the Bail Agreement and agree to the terms. We’re not predatory as Hertzberg keeps saying.”
“Without Surety Bail defendants will be left with limited choices for release from custody. Cash Bail, stay in custody or hope the Judge releases them on O.R. which could include House Arrest or wearing a GPS Ankle Monitor. The ankle monitors are expensive. More expensive than the Premium on a Bail Bond in most cases. SB262 will force CA Taxpayers to pick up the costs of the ankle monitors. In San Francisco they went to Zero Bail and GPS Ankle Monitors while Boudin was DA. Majority cut off their ankle monitors. Total failure.”
“When you buy an Auto Insurance Policy do you get your premium back if you don’t file any claims?” the bail agent added.
The Globe was told by bail agents that a number of California counties assumed SB 262 would pass and become law January 1, 2022. A Bail Agent observed in one county they were already training dozens of people for Pretrial Services. “SEIU support these bills because it benefits them,” the bail agent said. “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,” the 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 Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office issued an informational press statement in September about zero bail, and said it became a policy in response to Covid-19.
Zero bail was tested in 2020 during the pandemic but law enforcement and crime victims made clear these policies failed. 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.
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