Los Angeles County officially expanded its zero-bail policy on Sunday despite major outcry from cities and police departments in the area, NBC4 reported.
Suspects in LA County will now be released immediately after being booked without having to pay bail unless they are suspected of committing a “serious” or capital crime, a press release from the LA County Superior Court detailed. Police officers and residents across the county expressed concern that this new policy would exacerbate the already rampant crime in the area, while 12 cities sued LA County on Friday over the new zero-bail requirements, according to NBC4. (RELATED: Illinois Officially Eliminates Cash Bail)
“Law enforcement is averse to the list of ‘book and release’ offenses because that approach offers little to no deterrence to those involved in a range of serious criminal offenses,” the LA Police Department wrote in a press release. “[O]ur primary focus should be whether the individual poses a serious threat to public safety, and not their ability to pay.”
New ZERO bail policy added to LA County low level felonies this evening.
Any guesses on how many robberies it will take before retail businesses shutter and move? pic.twitter.com/GLCCDWoTnE
— Dane (@UltraDane) October 1, 2023
LA County originally implemented a zero-bail policy in 2020 before halting the program in 2022 when officers reported they had re-arrested 646 individuals because of zero-bail. An LA Superior Court judge placed an injunction on bail in May to effectively remove the system, and the county created a bail schedule in July that further limits which crimes are eligible for bail, NBC4 reported.
Under the new system, a suspect who has allegedly committed a “serious” offense or who has been arrested for an offense while on parole will have to go through “magisterial review” to assess their risk to the public before being released, according to a presentation on the new policy. Those offenses include rape, looting, elder abuse and human trafficking, the new bail schedule for the county showed.
But most offenses, including organized retail theft and automotive theft, will not qualify for bail in the county, according to the bail schedule. Residents expressed concern that this would prevent officers from keeping the public safe, KTLA5 reported on Saturday.
“Seeing that there has been a lot of robberies at local malls and department stores, it’s saddening to see it happen and people getting away with it,” Ronnie Salazar, a business owner in LA County, told KTLA5. “If we don’t have product, we can’t sell it and it’s very saddening to see that policy could potentially affect so many businesses here.”
Several county supervisors who voted for the bill admitted that they had received overwhelming pushback from locals, but argued that the “fear mongering” over the system was unjustified, according to NBC4. They claimed that the system would not remove consequences for criminals and would instead make the justice system more equitable, KTLA5 reported.
“There is a reason why the courts have ordered cash bail as unconstitutional…the data has shown that it doesn’t prevent crime from happening,” Democratic County Supervisor Holly Mitchell told KTLA5. “Pre-trial release should depend on a person’s risk to public safety…our justice system should not be for sale.”
The LA County Superior Court and the LA County sheriff’s department did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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