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Referendum Puts California's Attempt To End To Cash Bail On Hold Until 2020

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

Gov. Jerry Brown hands a copy of a bill to end bail he signed to Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, right, who along with state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, third from right, co-authored the measure, during a signing ceremony, Aug. 28, 2018.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

The bail industry’s effort to force a referendum on the new California law that ends cash bail has qualified for the November 2020 ballot, freezing the law’s implementation until voters weigh in nearly two years from now.

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown and California lawmakers passed a bill to make California the first state in the nation to eliminate cash bail altogether. The law requires courts to base pretrial release decisions on inmates’ risks to the public and their flight risks.

Backers muscled the measure through over fierce opposition of the bail industry, which could cease to exist. In response, the industry spent millions of dollars gathering signatures for a voter referendum. The Secretary of State’s office says the measure is now set for the November 2020 ballot.

Whenever a referendum qualifies, the law it targets is put on hold until the election. That buys the bail industry nearly two extra years under California’s current system — and the opportunity to ask voters to overturn the new law.


Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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