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COVID-19: Bail Measures to Reduce Inmate Population in CA

COVID-19: Bail Measures to Reduce Inmate Population in CA

Since the coronavirus pandemic made its way to the United States, local, state, and federal governments have taken sweeping action to slow the spread of the virus. As such, businesses have shut down temporarily, movie theatres have been closed, concerts have been canceled, restaurants have closed indoor dining, schools have closed and switched to online learning, and even the criminal courts have joined the cause.

Virtually all private, business and government sectors are doing what they can to collaborate and slow the spread of COVID-19. In the criminal justice system, the courts have stepped up and made some changes. Their goal to do what they can to help protect the public’s health and safety. One such measure is taking action to lower the jail and prison populations.

Emergency Rules Are Enacted

On April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council in California approved 11 emergency rules, one of which included setting bail across the State of California at $0 for those who were charged with misdemeanors and low-level felonies. The purpose of this measure is to effectively reduce the jail populations while protecting the general public’s safety from violent offenders.

“We are at this point truly with no guidance in history, law, or precedent,” said Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. “And to say that there is no playbook is a gross understatement of the situation. In developing these rules, we listened to suggestions from our justice system partners, the public, and the courts, and we greatly appreciate all of the input. Working with our court stakeholders, I’m confident we can preserve the rule of law and protect the rights of victims, the accused, litigants, families and children, and all who seek justice. It’s truly a team effort.”

Under California’s statewide Emergency Bail Schedule, bail is being set at $0 for all misdemeanor and felony offenses, with limited exceptions for serious and violent felonies, such as those covered under sections 262, 243(e)(1), 273.5, 273.6, 422, 646.9, 290(c), 23152, 23153, 463, and 29800 of the California Penal Code. 

To learn more about the Emergency Bail Schedule, contact our office at (510) 907-6600.