California Almost Became the First State to Eliminate Cash Bail

A new law ends the system of having to pay money to get out of jail.

Update: In January 2019, the law eliminating California's cash-bail system was put on hold (SB 10). Its fate was finally decided via referendum in the November 2020 election, with California voters rejecting SB 10 and keeping cash-bail as an option. (Updated November 19, 2020.)

Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that ends the system of cash bail in California. His signature makes California the first state in the country to uproot the standard pretrial release process, by which many defendants have to pay money in order to get out of jail while their cases await resolution. The law goes into effect in October 2019.

Under the new system, many arrestees will be released within 12 hours of being booked. Many others will undergo algorithm-based "risk assessment," the scores they receive going a long way toward determining whether they too can go home. People accused of violent felonies and those who receive high-risk scores are more likely to be held in jail.

Read about bail algorithms for more on the law.

Effective: August 28, 2018