Letters to the Editor: Cash bail is ending in L.A. County. LAPD Chief Moore has concerns
To the editor: The general principles of bail are governed by mandatory factors identified in the California Constitution, which makes public safety and the victim’s safety the primary considerations — not punishment or “tyranny.” (“Chief Moore and other bail reform critics are wrong. Cash bail should not be a form of punishment,” editorial, Sept. 25)
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. Our goals are safety, deterrence and prevention, not punishment. Historically, these goals have been achieved by the imposition of higher bail amounts. To achieve those goals, our primary focus should be whether the individual poses a serious threat to public safety, not their ability to pay.
With the new bail schedule in Los Angeles County, the magistrate review process will evaluate the individual circumstances of an arrest as well as the person’s past criminal history in assessing the ongoing risk to public safety and to the safety of the victim.
On a case-by-case basis, absent the existence of sufficient safeguards in the release of these individuals back into the community, we are asking the court to not release individuals who pose risks to community safety, including those with repeated instances of prior serious offenses.
We will continue to speak with the L.A. County Judicial Council as it strives to strike the appropriate balance in protecting community safety and victims from further harm without unduly withholding an individual from their release back into the community.
Michel R. Moore, Los Angeles
The writer is chief of the Los Angeles Police Department.
To the editor: One important point about cash bail that needs to be emphasized is the harm that incarcerating an individual does to the person and their family.
When someone is jailed pending arraignment or trial for not having the money for bail, their family loses a source of income for a time, the person loses their job, or the person has to drop out of school, among other complications.
The ripple effect of cash bail harms more than just the accused in jail but also those who depend on the person. A wealthy person can walk out of jail and continue their life, while the poor or even middle-class person is forced to stay and wait for arraignment or trial.
Debbie Cassettari, Chino Hills
To the editor: Ending cash bail seems like a great idea, because the idea is that people won’t be held in custody for not being able to post bail and can rely on a compassionate judge to release them with a court date.
The problem is the law instructs a judge to presume that the accusations against the defendant are true for the purposes of bail. So if someone is falsely accused of a violent crime and all the judge has to go off is their records, then chances are that the defendant will remain incarcerated until brought to court.
Under the current model, that defendant would have the option to post bail.
Therefore, ending cash bail could actually have the opposite effect and result in more people remaining in custody until their arraignment. That is a frightening thought.
Louis J. Shapiro, Los Angeles
The writer is a criminal defense attorney.
To the editor: If we can assume that someone who committed a crime did not want to be caught, releasing that person only on a promise to appear creates an additional opportunity to escape.
The purpose of bail is to release someone accused of a crime, pending their next hearing, with a real expectation that the accused will appear. For a real-world expectation, there must be a real-world incentive: If you don’t appear, you lose something.
It is unfortunate that a poor person, driven to crime by circumstance, must sit in jail, while someone who committed a similar crime is out on bail. But the issue here is not as much fairness of pre-appearance release as it is to make sure they get to their appearance.
Michael Telerant, Los Angeles