Proposition 25: Abolishing cash bail
What would Proposition 25 do?
Transform how people get out of jail while awaiting trial — making California the first state to replace cash bail with an algorithm.
Today, rich Californians can afford cash bail, while poorer people either pay bail bond companies or wait for trial in jail. This measure, if passed, would uphold a 2018 law that sought to eliminate cash bail and replace it with an algorithm to assess a person’s risk for not appearing at trial — the higher the risk, the less likely they are to be released.
Not affected: People accused of crimes outside the state court system.
Why am I voting on this?
In 2018, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that would have replaced cash bail with a risk-based algorithm. Superior courts would have to create new pretrial assessment divisions— this is pretty much how federal courts already work. Opposition, led by the bail bonds industry, challenged the law almost immediately.
Prop 25 is the statewide showdown: Will voters choose to move away from cash bail? And is this the right alternative?
The cash bail system is inherently classist, racist and unfair. People with generational wealth can pay their way out of jail while awaiting trial. Poorer people in the exact same legal circumstances, with the same statistical likelihood to appear — or not appear — for trial cannot afford to pay their way out. The bail bonds industry is designed to exploit this problem and these people.
And hey, maybe the accused will put money back into the economy instead of spending it on bail.
This one is a little tricky. There are two sides to the opposition and they are starkly different.
The bail Industry: We shouldn’t switch something that’s working for an alternative that is no better, and potentially more costly. Not only that, but it could lead to more people going free before trial and then committing more crimes.
Civil rights advocates: Cash bail is fundamentally flawed. But while algorithms can pitch you a song or sell you a toaster, they shouldn’t be used for release decisions. The factors considered for release will still lead to people of color being held for trial at disproportionate rates. Prop. 25 is further from the existing problem, but no closer to the solution.
Who's for it:
Service Employees International Union
California Democratic Party
California Medical Association
Gov. Gavin Newsom and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon
Who's against it:
California State Conference of the NAACP
California Peace Officers’ Association
California Bail Agents Association
Human Rights Watch
How is this being bankrolled?
Major Donors in Support
John Arnold, hedge fund manager
Connie Ballmer, philanthropist and wife of Clippers owner Steve Ballmer
Steve Ballmer, Clippers owner
Major Donors in Opposition
Triton Management Services, parent company of Aladdin Bail Bonds
AIA Holdings, bail bond company
Seaview Insurance Company, an affiliate of Triton Management Services