Access to bail will dramatically expand as the result of a decision this week by the Public Defender Ricardo Garcia and Alternate Public Defender Erika Anzoategui in partnership with The Bail Project to expand service to all courts in Los Angeles County.
The project, a national program, posts bonds on behalf of people in custody who cannot afford to pay, and then provides court reminders and transportation to ensure that they make their court dates.
The program also refers people to social services including homeless services, drug counseling, childcare, and many others. Until this week’s decision, The Bail Project was available only as a pilot project in Compton and Van Nuys. Of 136 bonds that have been posted as part of the pilot, 96% of the individuals have returned for their court appearances and 96% did not reoffend.
“This decision brings (Los Angeles) County into line with many progressive jurisdictions that have recognized there is no need for individuals to sit in jail cells simply because they are too poor to post bail,” Garcia said.
“Expanding The Bail Project throughout the county means that thousands of defendants can avoid the damaging consequences of unnecessary incarceration while awaiting trial. Too many people lose jobs and homes while their families suffer simply because they are poor. During this pandemic, waiting for trial in jail can be a death sentence. No person should face these consequences, particularly not when they are charged with crimes after exercising their constitutional right to protest against police violence.”
“I am particularly excited that this decision was made right now when we have so many people who participated in peaceful protests potentially being held in jail because the state’s ‘zero bail’ policy does not apply to them even though they are only charged with non-violent, non-serious offenses,” Anzoategui added.
“This decision will allow us to offer many more men and women an opportunity to get on with their lives while also ensuring that they make their court dates. We can’t forget that we’re fighting two pandemics, racism and COVID-19. By reducing the jail population we’re helping reduce exposure to COVID-19 which is widespread in the jails and is even more serious and harmful to people of color.”
The Bail Project National Revolving Bail Fund provides free bail assistance to low-income individuals who are legally presumed innocent, and whom a judge has deemed eligible for release before trial contingent on posting bail. Clients return home to their families and communities while awaiting their future court dates.