Bail Decisions Need To Reflect Ability To Pay

The California Supreme Court ruled unanimously ruled that judges must consider a suspect’s ability to pay when setting bail, essentially suggesting that non-dangerous defendants who cannot afford bail should be released under other conditions.“The common practice of conditioning freedom solely on whether an arrestee can afford bail is unconstitutional,” Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar wrote in the opinion.The justice specifically noted other conditions under which defendants can be released, including electronic monitors, regular check-ins, community shelters and drug and alcohol treatment.The decision upheld a ruling from a San Francisco-based state court of appeal panel which found that Kenneth Humphrey, who was jailed for more than eight months because he couldn’t pay a $350,000 bail for charges of stealing $5 and a bottle of cologne from a neighbor, could be released with an ankle monitor because he could not pay the money, the Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press reported.

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