It’s a real “Get Out of Jail Free” card.
Los Angeles County enacted a new rule this week which immediately releases non-violent offenders back on the streets instead of holding them in jail until their arraignment.
Critics of the progressive policy said they are bracing for more of the smash-and-grab incidents which have plagued big name stores and mom and pop shops alike.
“This is a big problem, especially with chronic thieves like the people who are involved in the smash-and-grabs,” Eric Siddall, former vice president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, told The Post.
“It’s definitely a ‘catch and release’ policy. And so it doesn’t matter how good our law enforcement is, it doesn’t matter how quickly they respond. These people are not going to be held accountable.”
Under the zero-bail system, which officially went into effect on Oct.1, suspects who are arrested for non-violent and non-serious crimes are immediately released from custody without seeing a judge.
Most of the people who are detained for non-serious and non-violent crimes could be cited and released at the scene or booked and then released from jail with orders to appear back in court for an arraignment if charges are filed later.
However, Siddall said given the already 13,000-case backlog under the LA County District Attorney’s Office, many of these cases more than likely will not move forward.
He added progressive LA County DA George Gascón’s policies go even further than the new rule ordered by the court, so he doesn’t expect many of the suspects will even end up facing a judge.
“At least the courts recognize that there’s a problem and they’re trying to address it, but DA Gascón’s policies related to bail are far more radical,” Siddal said. “The DA has basically abdicated our role in this whole entire process and said we’re not supposed to ask for them at all.
“Gascón’s policy is not to ask for bail on non-serious, non-violent felons. We are not allowed to ask for it at all.”
LA County residents said they are concerned this could cause an uptick in crime.
“What if someone comes in and tries to break into my house … but they didn’t harm me,” said Silvia to local TV station KTLA. “I’m freaking out because he’s in my home. That’s non-violent, right?”
Footage of huge mobs taking over big-brand stores like an incident in August where about 50 people ransacked Nordstrom at the Topanga Mall in broad-daylight have become all too common throughout California.
City officials in 12 Southern California cities are also concerned over the new protocol and filed court papers last week in an effort to block the no bail policy from going into effect.
LA County previously implemented a zero-bail system during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent jail overcrowding, but the policy was lifted a year ago.
During an LA County planning meeting last week, Supervisor Kathryn Barger said her office received calls from concerned citizens.
“Residents don’t feel safe,” she said. “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 … and people want to know how this is going to impact crime on the street.”
LA County Sheriff Robert Luna also spoke during the meeting and said residents will be the ultimate victims.
“When they hear or see someone being released immediately after an arrest, it negatively impacts confidence in our criminal justice system,” he said to the Board of Supervisors.
“If you can’t go to work because your car was stolen, and you realize that even if the person who stole it was caught they would be released without posting bail before you can even get your car back, you might question if the system is fair or not.”
Senior Lead Officer Dean Joseph, who works out of the Los Angeles Police Department Community Police Station in Skid Row, said the zero-bail policy will have immediate effect on the streets where drug violence and overdoses from fentanyl-laced drugs have spiked.
“Criminals are once again being told that there is no consequence to their actions and crime pays,” Joseph said.
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