SB 10 is the wrong replacement for California’s unjust money bail system

Source: Sac Bee

To the editor: Your editorial is right to call for “better justice before trial for defendants with or without money.” Unfortunately, your support of Senate Bill 10, which is headed for a referendum in 2020, is misguided.

Eliminating cash bail is urgent and necessary, but we must ensure we’re not replacing one bad bail system with another.

While SB 10 would eliminate cash bail and appear to attack wealth-based detention, it also embraces a system of algorithms based on statistical models that are used to determine who is in and who is out before trial. Like cash bail, this attempt at predicting future behavior turns the presumption of innocence on its head and can result in jail time before a court has evaluated any evidence against you.

Prominent researchers and scientists from leading academic institutions recently argued in a letter to officials in California that these tools “suffer from serious technical flaws that undermine their accuracy, validity, and effectiveness.” The algorithms rely on historical criminal justice data that are riddled with racial and economic disparities.

The choice is not SB 10 or the current system. We have an opportunity to reimagine pretrial justice. Let’s not miss our chance.

Robin Steinberg, Marina del Rey