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California Lawmaker Wants To Limit Use Of Bail

One California lawmaker is proposing to limit the use of bail in county courts.

Democratic State Senator Robert Hertzberg said judges often end up imposing bail that is too high, leaving poor people stuck in jail.

RELATED: States And Cities Take Steps To Reform ‘Dishonest’ Bail System

One woman he talked to who was unable to afford bail said her life fell apart as she awaited trial in jail.

“Loses her business, car gets towed, an unlawful detainer in her home, whole life turned upside down, and they never even filed charges,” Hertzberg said. “That is not American values.”

Hertzberg’s bill would get rid of the bail schedules. Instead, he wants to create a process that is tailored to the individual's circumstances.

Defendants would go through a pretrial assessment to determine if they are a flight risk or a public safety threat. Only then would bail be an option for judges.

Opponents said limiting the bail system means judges will resort to more restrictive means like ankle monitors to ensure people show up to court.

"If your family can post your bail right now and a judge will simply release you, that's less restrictive than you getting out and having to be on an ankle monitor,” said Jeff Clayton, executive director of the American Bail Coalition.

Clayton added judges already consider public safety and flight risk when setting bail. He said instead of getting rid of bail schedules altogether, the solution is to lower the standard amounts.

The Senate Public Safety Committee will hear the bill Tuesday.