It took 40 years, but California finally ended its cash bail system after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a reform bill Aug. 28.
“Today, California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly,” he said in a statement.
Brown had argued since the late 70s that there’s been a need to change the state’s bail system. The California Appellate Court ruled the bail system is unconstitutional previously this year, making the reform inevitable.
Those working to reform Nevada’s system see California’s move as a step in the right direction that could benefit efforts in the state.
“This is a trend we are starting to see,” says Laura Martin, the associate director of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. “Other states are looking at what they could be doing rather than throwing people in jail.”
Supporters of reform argue the system harms communities of color and low-income people who can’t afford high bails and as a result sit in jail for prolonged periods of time.
“If you look at the Clark County public records, you’ll see examples of people sitting in jail for unsafe lane changes,” Martin says.
More people have become aware of how the justice system disproportionately targets people of color. Though it’s getting more attention, Martin says progress to change the system takes time.
“This isn’t something that just happens overnight,” Martin says. “This is an example of progressive organizing.”
With calls for change, states have worked to figure out ways to address the system over the last few years.
Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo, D-Las Vegas, has previously said he would propose legislation in the 2019 Legislative session that would ask judges to consider non-monetary options first. But Fumo has said the legislation would not end the cash bail system.