State Watch

San Francisco will no longer seek cash bail in criminal cases 

San Francisco’s newly-elected district attorney Chesa Boudin announced that the city will no longer ask for cash bail for criminal defendants’ pretrial release. 

Boudin was sworn into office just two weeks ago after being elected to office in November. On Wednesday he made good on his central campaign promise to abolish cash bail. According to a statement posted on Twitter, prosecutors will use a “risk-based system” to determine if a defendant is likely to flee. 

The cash bail system in the U.S. has been criticized as benefiting defendants of higher incomes. Defendants without enough money to post bail spend the time between their arrest and the end of their trial – often months – behind bars. In the statement, Boudin said taxpayers spent $38 million per day jailing people who have not been convicted of any crimes. 

Boudin said the practice disproportionately affects communities of color and lower-income individuals. 

“For years I’ve been fighting to end this discriminatory and unsafe approach to pretrial detention,” Boudin said in a statement. “From this point forward, pretrial detention will be based on public safety, not on wealth.”

The shift to remove cash bail goes a step further than Boudin’s predecessor. George Gascón brought down cash bail by introducing an algorithmic risk assessment tool in 2016. The DA’s office on Wednesday said they will continue to use the tool, which “has allowed prosecutors and judges to preserve the constitutional protection of presumed innocence, while maintaining public safety through objective data.”

Tags California cash bail San Francisco
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