A new controversial bail reform law has gone live in Los Angeles County, and many are worried about the widespread effects it could have on increasing crime in the region.
On Sunday, the first day of October, the law officially went into effect, and bars any judge from setting a cash bail amount in almost all criminal cases. The law is very similar to the criminal justice reforms that have taken place in New York recently.
When the law was first announced, law enforcement agencies fought back hard against it, and major lawsuits were filed to try to stop it.
Last Friday, in fact, 12 cities located in Los Angeles County filed a lawsuit to try to block the law from going into effect, and more municipalities are expected to join as well.
Gary Boyer, the mayor of Glendora – one of the plaintiffs in the case – told local news station KTLA-TV:
“As soon as other cities in Los Angeles County know about it, I’m sure we’ll have additional support. 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.”
The new law is called PARP, or Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols. It almost entirely gets rid of the traditional system of bail, by removing bail for almost all crimes.
PARP is actually a revival of an emergency measure that was put into place while the pandemic was going on so jails wouldn’t become overcrowded.
The policy was essentially reinstated back in May, when a judge in Los Angeles issued a preliminary injunction. That decision was then upheld by a judge in Los Angeles Superior Court in July.
In the second ruling, the Presiding Judge Samantha Jessner wrote:
“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 trial or is released.”
Those who support this law say that removing bail for almost all crimes won’t increase crime.
The Judicial Council of California actually released a report that showed that the policy could result in a reduction of crime. According to the study, the law would result in a drop of 5.8% of defendants being arrested again for a misdemeanor and 2.4% for all felony arrests.
One of the main issues, though, is that the law makes residents fearful of the possibilities.
Kathryn Barger, one of the lawmakers on the Board of Supervisors for the county, commented:
“Residents don’t feel safe. 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. People want to know how this is going to impact crime on the street.”
Crime has spiked enormously in the last few years in New York City, and many critics of the criminal justice reforms passed in 2019 there say it’s the reason why.
Now, people in Los Angeles County will wonder whether the same thing will happen in their part of the country.