Los Angeles Enacts ‘Zero Bail’ System

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October 3, 2023

Los Angeles County this week enacted a "zero bail" system, allowing many criminals to go free immediately after arrest.

Non-violent offenders will now be released back onto the streets without bail in the county after being arrested for a crime. The county's previous policy required defendants post bail, relative to the severity of the crime, before release. Progressives argued this kept poor people incarcerated while the wealthy could pay to stay out of jail.

Residents and police officials expressed concern about the policy change, NBC Los Angeles reported:

"Our communities have not been shy about telling us how nervous they are about this change,'' county Sheriff Robert Luna told the Board of Supervisors last week, saying crime victims who see offenders immediately released from custody are left with little confidence in the criminal justice system.

He said he understands the need to respect the constitutional rights of arrestees, but said zero-bail can demoralize deputies and police officers who work hard to make arrests, only to "watch the offender walk away with a citation as the victim looks on in disbelief."

Rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson spoke out earlier this year about the policy, saying the city is "finished" with zero bail.

A similar policy went into effect in Illinois, where a state law ended cash bail, putting criminals on the streets soon after being arrested.

An analysis by the Washington Free Beacon found that several violent arrestees have already been released under the policy, known as the SAFE-T Act, which passed in 2021 but underwent several legal challenges. Out of 102 county prosecutors in Illinois, 100 opposed the law.