Take Action Against California Senate Bill 10
Senate Bill 10 is a radical shift in California’s criminal justice system that is a bipartisan bad idea. This is why similar legislation was rejected by the California Assembly last year. But, the push for Senate Bill 10 is continuing this legislative session, and Californians need to be aware of what Senate Bill 10 does and to let their voices be heard on it.
Senate Bill 10 relies on using computerized risk algorithms to determine who gets bail in California. Yet, there have been serious criticisms of such algorithms from several different viewpoints.
First, the jury is out on whether they are biased and whether they can correct bias.
Second, they produce head-scratching results such as the Twin Peaks shooting case in San Francisco, where a risk assessment counted a prior felon in possession of a firearm as low risk.
Third, they have not proven to reduce mass incarceration—in Kentucky, who has been using a leading algorithm for years which is also used in California, the result was a “trivial” decrease in the jail population.
Senate Bill 10 also creates pre-conviction probation statewide in California. That will be hugely costly—hundreds of millions of dollars. This will involve putting innocent defendants on all kinds of correctional technology, from monitoring their blood chemistry, putting them on house arrest, and putting GPS units on their person. Senate Bill 10 is designed to do that—to provide a free electronic dragnet to ensnare defendants and set them up for failure all in the name of trying to eliminate the right to post a bail and be free from state interference until conviction.
On the public safety side, eliminating bail from the system along with the creation of a new statewide bureaucracy will overtax the system, triggering a revolving door of arrests in California, further weakening the system.
In systems where bail has been eliminated, people simply thumb their nose at the system. While many reforms to the criminal justice system are needed, weakening accountability at the front end of the system by removing incentives to get criminal cases resolved is not the answer in California. Of course, the Little Hoover Commission in 2013 recommended a slate of reforms that the Legislature has ignored, including taking steps to reduce the amount of bail required in California, which could be done safely and effectively.
Senate Bill 10 is too radical for California. Take action to stop it, and let California legislators know that now is not time for this dangerous legislation.