Results: Polls are closed. California decides on Proposition 25 to eliminate or keep cash bail

  • California voters are voting on Proposition 20, which if passed, would eliminate the use of cash bail statewide in California courts. 
  • Polls in California closed at 11 p.m. ET. 
  • While former Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that would eliminate cash bail in 2018, bail bond industry groups mobilized to have the law put to a ballot referendum vote before it formally took effect. 
  • The proposition, if passed, would replace the cash bond system with an algorithm-based risk assessment tool courts would use to determine a defendant's flight risk and likelihood of not showing up to court. 
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Polls in California closed at 11 p.m. ET. 

Californians are voting on Proposition 20 to determine whether to formally approve a law that would make the state the first in the nation to eliminate cash bail for defendants statewide.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill abolishing cash bail into law in 2018 that has not yet gone into effect pending the outcome of this ballot proposition.

The cash bond industry immediately mobilized and gathered the signatures for the law to be put to a ballot referendum before it could formally take effect, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Over the past several years, criminal justice reform advocates have argued that the cash bail system has little to do with bolstering public safety and is fundamentally unjust. 

A cash bail system assesses whether a defendant charged with a crime can be released before their trial largely or even solely on their ability to pay. Opponents of this system argue that it explicitly favors rich defendants over poor ones. Lower-income defendants and people of color often have the least ability to pay, and rely the most on bail bondsmen. 

If passed, Proposition 20 would put into effect a law replacing the cash bail system with an algorithm-based risk assessment that courts would use to determine a defendant's likelihood of being a flight risk or not showing up to court in determining whether to release that defendant pre-trial. 

The ballot title and summary: 

"Referendum on Law that Replaced Money Bail with System Based on Public Safety and Flight Risk."

"A 'Yes' vote approves, and a 'No' vote rejects a 2018 law replacing money bail with system based on public safety and fight risk. Fiscal Impact: Increased costs possibly in mid-hundreds of millions of dollars annually for a new process for release from jail prior to trial. Decreased county jail costs, possibly in high tens of millions of dollars annually."

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