A controversial new law barring judges from setting bail in most criminal cases took effect in Los Angeles County on Sunday — raising widespread fears it will inevitably lead to a spike in crime.
The bail reform measure in southern California — eerily similar to New York’s much-maligned criminal justice reforms — was met with fierce backlash from law enforcement and a major lawsuit, according to a report by KTLA-TV News.
Twelve cities in the county sued on Friday to block the law – with more municipalities expected to follow.
“As soon as other cities in Los Angeles County know about it, I’m sure we’ll have additional support,” said Glendora Mayor Gary Boyer, one of the dozen plaintiffs.
“But our big hope would be to overturn the zero bail policy or at least put a pause on it so that we have the ability to take a harder look and find out whether or not this is the right thing to do,” Boyer told the outlet.
The endeavor, officially called the Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols, or PARP, largely eliminates the traditional bail system by prohibiting bail for most crimes – a revival of an emergency measure first put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent jail overcrowding.
In May, an LA judge issued a preliminary injunction essentially reinstating the policy – with a Los Angeles Superior Court judge upholding the decision in July, Fox affiliate KTTV-TV said in a report.
“A person’s ability to pay a large sum of money should not be the determining factor in deciding whether that person, who is presumed innocent, stays in jail before trail or is released,” Presiding Judge Samantha Jessner wrote in the second ruling.
Supporters of the reform measure argue that it will not impact the crime rate.
A report by the Judicial Council of California determined that a zero-bail policy would actually reduce crime. The study determined that a similar law would result in a 5.8% drop in defendants being rearrested for a misdemeanor and a 2.4% drop in rearrests for felonies, KTTV reported.
But critics, including lawmakers on the county’s Board of Supervisors, said the move has sparked fear among residents.
“Residents don’t feel safe,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger told the outlet.
“One only has to turn on the TV each morning and hear what happened the day before, whether it be a smash-and-grab, a carjacking, a burglary, an armed robbery,” she said.
“People want to know how this is going to impact crime on the street.”
New York’s 2019 criminal justice reforms sparked similar concerns in the Empire State, with critics citing the law as one reason for a disturbing spike in crime in the Big Apple.
That law, which has since been tweaked to add more bail-eligible offenses, remains a point of political debate in Albany and the subject of controversy on the streets of the state.
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