California's bail reform under sharp attack from bail industry

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As the state of California closes the door on cash bail-- it's also opened itself up to criticism. The loudest complaints are coming from the bail industry.

Jeff Clayton of the American Bail Coalition, "The big concern is that it's racially biased, I think the other one is that it just doesn't work. It lets out high-risk people, it just doesn't make any sense."

Clayton is with the American Bail Coalition and he says the law would wipe out 15,000 jobs. Under the new system, cash bail would be replaced by a risk assessment. The county probation departments will be the ones gauging whether a defendant is a safety risk.

Kirk Haynes, Chief Probation Officer, said, "It will increase public safety because we are expanding this program to those who would have had no supervision while they were out fighting their case."

Haynes said the county is more equipped than others to handle this new law. The department already operates a pre-trial program, serving about 350 defendants. He said the system is very scientific and doesn't believe racial bias will be an issue.

"Often times, when you were out on bail, you were out, it really didn't take under consideration what level of risk you were to a victim."

The success rate for the pre-trial program is 64-percent. Chief Haynes anticipates those numbers holding steady. But law enforcement agencies and bail bondsmen say without money serving as a deterrent, more suspects will fail to appear.

"You've got bondsmen recovering people from all over the world. In fact, I talked to an agent who just recovered someone from Israel, all that goes away if this becomes law," said Clayton.

The initiative is hoping to stop the law needs more than 360,000 signatures within the next 90 days to make the ballot in 2020.
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