RICHMOND – Richmond City Councilmember and candidate for California’s 15th Assembly District Jovanka Beckles expressed serious concerns Wednesday about Senate Bill 10, the “bail reform” bill, echoing the issues raised by state and national civil rights organizations.
The bill, signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday, eliminates cash bail from pretrial detention, a reform that Beckles supports. However, the bill also establishes an unfair and unaccountable system of “preventive detention,” empowering judges to detain arrestees at will with no due process. It also mandates an increased reliance on profile-based risk assessment tools, which purport to assess an arrestee’s risk of reoffending or not appearing in court, but have been widely condemned as reinforcing the same racial and socioeconomic biases that a true “bail reform” bill would seek to eliminate.
In an earlier form, SB10 had support from a wide array of civil rights and criminal-justice reform organizations. But many of those organizations, including the California ACLU and Human Rights Watch, pulled their endorsements after late changes by the Legislature made it clear that the bill no longer constituted true reform of California’s inequitable bail system.
“I support the abolition of cash bail for the same reason that thousands of activists across the country do: because the cash bail system is deeply unjust,” Beckles said. “In its final version as signed by Governor Brown, SB10 doesn’t fix that injustice, and may even make it worse. I can’t in good conscience support replacing one system that unfairly targets people of color and poor communities with another. If elected to the Assembly, I promise to continue the fight for true bail reform that both keeps Californians safe and protects their civil rights.”