Resolution on Money Bail

RESOLUTION 16-06.35L



Resolution on Money Bail

WHEREAS our justice system is built on the premise of equal protection for all but California’s money bail system has resulted in two separate justice systems – one for the wealthy and one for everyone else, and money bail doesn’t make our communities safer, because release from jail is based on wealth not on risk; and California taxpayers spend $5 million per day to jail 45,000 people who are awaiting trial, approximately one third of whom are there because they cannot afford to pay bail, yet many could be safely released; and

WHEREAS the median bail amount in California is $50,000 – five times higher than the national median – while nearly half of survey respondents told the Federal Reserve that they would not be able to pay for an unexpected $400 expense; and one-third of all felony arrests in California do not result in a conviction, according to the California Department of Justice; and Californians who are struggling to make ends meet experience the most harm, particularly women who take 83% of the responsibility to pay for a loved one’s court-related costs; and some Californians who are not guilty feel compelled to plead guilty to crimes they did not commit to get out of jail, which can result in loss of jobs, homes, benefits and even child custody, and other innocent people suffer jail, such as 16-year-old Kalief Browder who spent three years at Rikers Island, most of the time in solitary confinement, because he could not make bail and would not plead guilty because he was innocent and then committed suicide after he was released;

WHEREAS racial inequalities in our criminal justice system are also built into our current bail system and the odds of Black and Latino people being detained before trial – despite bail having been set – are more than twice those for White people; and there are more effective, cost-effective, and fairer ways to protect public safety and ensure people come back to court for trial, including modern risk assessment tools and successful pretrial programs in Santa Clara County, Washington DC and Kentucky; and California's money bail system is not working and taxpayers are footing the bill for a system that favors the wealthy without making communities any safer;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the California Democratic Party opposes the current money bail system, and supports policies that will safely reduce unnecessary detention of people awaiting trial and associated taxpayer costs, and that will better ensure court appearance as required, including the elimination of commercial money bail; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this resolution be distributed to all our democratic state legislators and Governor.
Sponsored and authored by John L. Burton and the CDP Resolutions Committee

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Adopted by the California Democratic Party
At its 2017 Statewide Convention
Sacramento Convention Center

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