“Los Angeles Street exit US 101, Santa Ana Freeway” by vision63 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.
The controversial zero bail policy in Los Angeles has been reinstated on the grounds that it violates the suspects’ constitutional rights.
The zero bail policy was reinstated following a ruling by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, Lawrence Riff, who granted a preliminary injunction that prohibits the city and county from requiring cash bail from individuals who have not yet been arraigned.
The ruling came in response to a lawsuit titled Urquidi vs. Los Angeles, which seeks to put an end to the practice of cash bail.
“Being jailed for even short periods of time may cause them to lose their jobs, their housing, or custody of their children,” according to the lawsuit. “They suffer all the harms of confinement in a jail cell even though a large portion of them will never be formally charged with any crime, let alone convicted.”
Judge Riff, in his ruling, expressed concern that detaining individuals solely based on their inability to pay bail could potentially infringe upon their constitutional rights.
“Enforcing the secured money bail schedules against poor people who are detained in jail solely for the reason of their poverty is a clear, pervasive, and serious constitutional violation,” Riff said in his 64-page decision. “Pretrial detention of presumptively innocent people based upon their poverty is neither intended nor permitted to operate as a form of punishment, but that is, plaintiffs say, what is actually happening every day.”
Six plaintiffs claim they suffered negative consequences because they could not afford bail, including missed work, separation from their families and lapsed medical care.
It will remain in effect for 60 days to give the county and the city of Los Angeles time to develop what Riff called a “constitutionally sound, effective, concrete” plan to handle those who have been arrested for minor offenses such as shoplifting and vandalism.
In a statement Wednesday morning, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department acknowledged the change in policy and said it would follow guidelines outlined in 2020’s “Third Los Angeles County Emergency Bail Scheduled Modification.”
Those arrested for most misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses “would be released on their recognizance or subject to non-monetary conditions,” the Department said.