LOS ANGELES - This week, mayors and city leaders from a coalition of 29 cities in Los Angeles County gathered for a roundtable discussion to evaluate the impact of no-cash bail on local communities. In response to concerns, the leaders are advocating for a freeze on the program and a thorough examination before considering smart bail reform.
No-cash bail, also known as pre-arraignment release protocols, prohibits the requirement of money bail before arraignment for most misdemeanors and certain felonies.
During the roundtable, leaders expressed varied concerns about no-cash bail, including potential safety issues, increased financial strain on cities due to heightened demands on police and crime prevention programs, and the lack of community input before the policy's implementation.
Irwindale Mayor Pro-Tem Albert Ambriz emphasized the strain on community resources and police departments, stating, "It is a system that strips accountability from those causing harm to our communities and prevents our local governments from protecting their residents. Simply put, it is a system that we all must stop and re-evaluate."
The Los Angeles County Superior Court reports that 85% of individuals released under the no-cash bail system are considered low-risk. However, concerns arise as the definition of low-risk includes offenses such as burglary, breaking and entering, and drug dealing, with an increase in these crimes throughout Los Angeles County.
City leaders also raised alarms about the fiscal impact of no-cash bail, with cities having to allocate more funds for graffiti abatement, police overtime, and additional patrols. Paramount Mayor Isabel Aguayo emphasized, "Every dollar spent on the repercussions of no-cash bail is a dollar not spent on the real needs of our communities."
Moreover, the lack of community input before the widespread implementation of no-cash bail was criticized. Mayor Joe Vinatieri of Whittier highlighted the absence of public engagement on a policy directly affecting public safety and city management.
The coalition of 29 L.A. County cities has filed an injunction to freeze the no-cash bail system, and the hearing is scheduled for December. Residents can learn more and support the call for smart bail reform at bit.ly/SmartBailReform.
Torrance City Councilwoman Bridgett Lewis emphasized the need for improvement, stating, "No-cash bail was developed to address flaws in our justice system, but the truth is, this may put many of those communities it was meant to help at greater risk. We can do better."