California Senate Bill 10: A Backgrounder
California’s Senate Bill 10 was signed into law on August 28, 2018 by Governor Jerry Brown, and it will be implemented on October 1, 2019. The law eliminates the state’s cash bail system; requires that persons arrested and detained to be subject to a pretrial risk assessment conducted by Pretrial Assessment Services; classifies defendants as low, medium, or high risk based on pretrial risk assessment results; and expedites the release of many low-level pretrial defendants to community supervision—either Own Recognizance Release or Supervised OCR—to reduce the burden to the individual and the local jail system.
SB 10 was based on recommendations from the Pretrial Detention Reform Workgroup, which included 11 judges from counties across California and one court executive officer. This Workgroup began meeting in October 2016 and issued a report to Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye one year later. The Workgroup delivered 10 recommendations to change pretrial detention practices after stating “the current system is not safe and not fair.”
During the course of its yearlong study, the Workgroup examined the complex issues involved in the current pretrial release and detention system. Members reviewed a wide variety of research and policy materials and heard presentations from state and national experts, justice system partner representatives, the commercial bail industry, state and local regulators, victim and civil rights advocacy organizations, California counties that have experience with pretrial services programs, and jurisdictions outside California that have undertaken pretrial reform efforts.
At the conclusion of its process, the Workgroup determined that California’s current pretrial release and detention system unnecessarily compromises victim and public safety because it bases a person’s liberty on financial resources rather than the likelihood of future criminal behavior and exacerbates socioeconomic disparities and racial bias.