Tell California Judges: Stop setting high bail amounts


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In partnership with Essie Justice Group, Color of Change is calling on the California Judicial Council to issue guidance to judges to stop setting high bails.

Right now, thousands of Black women in California are disproportionately being held pretrial simply because they cannot afford to pay bail. But these judges have the power to put a stop to it. 

Approximately 44,241 people are locked in cages across county jails in California. These people haven’t been convicted or sentenced for a crime. Unsurprisingly, Black and brown people bear the brunt of this unjust system. in Los Angeles County, where Black people make up only 9% of the overall population, Black women make up a third (33%) of the population of the women’s jail. Most of these women are being held pretrial, and the crisis has gotten even worse throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Some people have been forced to wait more than 5 years for a trial — that’s 5 years separated from loved ones, friends, and community members all because they can’t afford to pay bail. 

Let’s get one thing clear, no one should have to sit in a jail cell because they are too poor to pay bail. The harms of pretrial detention reverberate beyond the accused person, often leading to a heightened risk of loss of a job, housing, or custody of children, and increased risk of future arrest.  

Judges have not been following constitutional law, and as a result, Black people without resources are being held pretrial with sometimes life-risking consequences. 

Sign the petition. California judges must act NOW to ensure our communities won’t continue to be subjected to the harmful and constitutional practice of issuing high bail amounts. 

See the letter that will be sent to the California Judicial Council:  

Please go to colorofchange.org Sign the Petition !

Here is the Petition:

“As a public official, you have the power to put an end to the unconstitutional practice of issuing bail beyond what someone can afford to pay. As you know, the California Supreme Court recently held in the landmark case In re Humphrey that it is unconstitutional for judges to set bail beyond someone’s ability to pay as a way to keep them in jail pretrial.

Nevertheless, judges across the state have continued to issue astronomical bail amounts, which disproportionately harm poor Black people. 

We’re calling on judges in California to commit to the following: 
1. Judges follow In re Humphrey and stop setting bail beyond someone’s ability to pay as a way to keep them in jail pretrial. Judges must promptly hold hearings on renewed bail motions from individuals in jail whose bail was set prior to the Humphrey decision.

2. Every judge across the state must determine a person’s ability to pay before setting bail and people should not have to bear any costs associated with conditions of their release.

3. Denying bail altogether should only be allowed in the extraordinary cases listed in Article 1, Section 12 of the California Constitution. Judges must consider all non-monetary alternatives to detention before denying someone of their freedom before a trial. The burden is on the State to prove by clear and convincing evidence that pretrial detention is necessary; it is not the individual’s burden to show that she should be released.