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Prop 25: A Referendum On California’s Landmark Law Eliminating Cash Bail

Judge's gavel.
Judge's gavel.
s_falkow/Flickr Creative Commons

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In 2018, California passed SB 10, a first of its kind law that replaced the state’s cash bail system with one that uses a risk-assessment system to determine whether pretrial release is appropriate for someone who has been arrested for a criminal offense, and if so what level of monitoring that individual requires based on factors like flight risk and the potential to reoffend or harm members of the community.

Superior courts across the state would be responsible for setting up pretrial risk assessment divisions to help make those determinations. But after then-Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill, a veto referendum was filed and the initiative gathered enough signatures to land on the 2020 ballot. Now, voters will decide whether to vote “yes” and uphold the law as passed or “no” and retain the state’s cash bail system. Supporters say that the cash bail system picks winners and losers in the justice system by allowing those with money to go free while those without are forced to sit in jail until their trial date, and that pretrial release should instead be determined based on an offender’s potential risk to society. Opponents argue that the pretrial risk assessment process relies too heavily on computer algorithms to determine an offender’s risk, which they say could lead to more biased results than the cash bail system.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll hear from stakeholders on both sides of this issue. If you have questions about Prop 25, join our live conversation by calling 866-893-5722.


Tanja Heitman, chief probation officer for Santa Barbara County; Southern Region chair for the Chief Probation Officers of California, which supports Prop 25

Topo Padilla, president of the Golden State Bail Agents Association, which opposes Prop 25, and chair of the council of presidents for the Professional Bail Agents of the United States, which represents bail agents nationwide; he has been a bail bondsman for 37 years and is an owner/partner at Greg Padilla Bail Bonds in Sacramento