The prop. 25 is dangerous for victims and communities

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In summary

Proposal 25 would eliminate pre-trial cash bond or release programs with a new, unproven automated computer system.

By Patricia Wenskunas, Special at CalMatters

Patricia Wenskunas is the Founder / CEO of Crime Survivors Inc., [email protected]

Defending victims of crime in California is no easy task. Often debates about our criminal justice system ignore the victims who are the people most personally affected by crime. Sadly Proposition 25 is just the last example.

Proposition 25 proposes to eliminate the constitutional right to elect bail or one of the many pre-trial release programs in California counties with a new, unproven automated computer system. Under the proposed system, algorithms and predictive modeling will replace the discretion of a judge to determine whether an accused is jailed pending trial or released into the community with few restrictions.

These are the same algorithm-based predictive modeling tools that help people discover new music or TV shows. Using them to decide who gets out of prison is a recipe for disaster.

Unless voted down by voters, it is obvious that Proposition 25 will be bad for victims of crime, local communities and even for civil rights. This is why a broad coalition ranging from our organization, Crime Survivors Inc., to law enforcement and the NAACP, has aligned itself to oppose Proposition 25.

By eliminating the bond and reducing the liability of defendants, Proposition 25 deprives our courts of their most important tool to ensure that defendants appear in court and hold them accountable if they fail to do so.

California has already had a glimpse of what life might look like under Proposition 25. Much of the state has instituted a “zero bond” during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Orange County, of the 1,635 defendants released on “zero bail” from April to August, nearly a third were re-arrested for new crimes upon release. Many people were arrested again several times after their release, and one person was arrested six more times.

Without accountability, these individuals just continue to commit crimes.

The results have been similar for other jurisdictions that have eliminated bail in the United States. A recent University of Utah study reviewed a 2017 interim release program in Cook County, Ill., home to Chicago. The study concluded that “the number of released defendants charged with committing new crimes has increased by 45%. And, more worryingly, the number of people on bail charged with committing new violent crimes has increased by about 33%. Equally disturbing, he also saw a substantial drop in domestic violence prosecutions, potentially due to the accused’s ability to intimidate their victims upon release.

I am very concerned that Proposition 25 unnecessarily exposes victims to harassment by their perpetrators and even to future crimes. There is nothing more traumatic than recovering after being the victim of a crime. Proposition 25 creates a system in which offenders can be released quickly with little protection for their victims.

Replacing our current bail system with an unproven interim release program will also prove costly to taxpayers. New Jersey has a smaller population than Los Angeles County and spent $ 125 million in the first year alone to implement a similar system. California will pay hundreds of millions of dollars to implement Proposition 25 even as state and local governments grapple with record budget deficits. All this to pay for unreliable risk assessment systems that will use predictive analytics to make high-stakes public safety decisions.

Ironically, these same predictive analytics have been found to reinforce racial biases when used for loan or credit applications. Proposition 25 is likely to produce a similar result if used in the criminal justice system. So even if some offenders are released, African Americans, Latinos and other minorities may be disproportionately detained pending trial for days or weeks, even if they do not pose a risk. for public safety.

The prop. 25 manages to achieve an incredible feat. This makes communities less secure, even while reinforcing racial prejudice and costing taxpayers dearly. The prop. 25 is not progress. It is a step backwards that will make California less safe for all of us.

In November, vote no on the prop. 25.

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CalMatters Guide to Proposals: Proposition 25: Abolish the cash deposit


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