Reform Money Bail in California

Nationally, 1-in-3 people are sitting in jail simply because they cannot afford bail. In California, the median bail amount is $50,000. A person’s ability to get out of jail should not depend on the size of their bank account—but right now freedom is out of reach for too many people because the money bail system punishes people for being poor.

Together, we can change this unjust system. We are encouraged by Governor Jerry Brown, Senator Hertzberg, Assemblymember Bonta, and Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye's unprecedented commitment to meaningfully reform California’s bail system.

Show your appreciation by tweeting a thank you to these California leaders today!

Most Californians cannot afford to post bail and so must either stay in jail or pay substantial nonrefundable fees to a bail bond company. These fees are not refunded under any circumstances – even if the court finds that a person is innocent or was wrongfully arrested. The money bail system preys on low-income families and people of color, who are most often targeted for arrest and incarceration. Whole families suffer, as they take on long-term debt to purchase the safety and freedom of a loved one, and women are hit the hardest. 

This year California lawmakers voted on two bills to reform this unfair and ineffective system that is harming our communities – particularly low-income people and people of color. The California Money Bail Reform Act of 2017 (AB 42 and SB 10) would help make sure California doesn’t lock people up because they can’t afford to pay bail and prioritizes services to help people make their court appearances while their cases move forward. With your help, we can pass SB10 next year!

The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights is proud to be co-sponsoring the California Money Bail Reform Act with Anti Recidivism Coalition, Silicon Valley Debug, Essie Justice Group, SEIU, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Californians for Safety and Justice, American Civil Liberties Union, and California Public Defenders Association.