by emily lusung
California became the first state to abolish cash bail under the reform bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown on August 28. California’s cash bail system was not always favorable because it privileged wealthy people to buy their own freedom. The old system will be replaced with preventive detention, which is the imprisonment of an individual who is considered a danger to society. Judges will have flexibility in the decision of whom they hold. What we fail to recognize within this problematic system are the possibilities of mass imprisonment and racial biases.
California reformed its cash bail system with the intention of fair treatment between the rich and the poor. Matter of fact, cash bail had a few upsides which include: being released under no conditions, money was returned as long as the defendant obeyed the terms and conditions of bail, and it gave the defendant the advantage of showing a promise to return to court. As there were upsides, there were also downsides which include: unaffordable cash bail and if the defendant were pleaded guilty they could potentially cause financial stress for their loved ones. The problem is that the new system, which will take effect in October 2019, will create far more pernicious ramifications. California will continue to give judges the authority to keep people incarcerated before any alleged conviction. The protracted fight California has gone through to end cash bail is no more than pointless. California is set up to diminish under the new system that’ll perhaps increase the numbers of people detained before their trials, and increase chances of mass incarceration.
In 2016, mass incarceration in California was never a considered factor of a bad justice system, fewer people were being sentenced to prison, and those who were released from prison were less likely to return for violating conditions of their paroles. With preventive detention, mass incarceration will generally be glorified. Judges can hold people in jail for which no amount of bail is sufficient. This will allow mass imprisonment to occur; the progress that occurred in 2016 will be neglected.
California’s justice system must underlie actual justice for the people within the legal process, and undermine a system with similar and precarious aspects to cash bail. The end of cash bail in California has become a relief for many, knowing that the wealthy will no longer be privileged. The new system is highly unjust, advocating the light that will shine power on incarceration and continuing to allow judges to have the power. It’s simple to create a fair justice system: ending the tyranny of unaffordable cash bail, but avoiding another system that replicates the problems of cash bail.