Category: Justice

ELECTION DAY 2018: Have You Voted? #WhenWeAllVote

GBN Editors Lori Lakin Hutcherson (l) and Lesa Lakin (r) voting at the polls on November 6, 2018.

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Just a quick reminder if you haven’t found a moment yet to make it to the polls today, there’s still time! GBN Lifestyle/Sports Editor Lesa Lakin and I have hit our respective voting places already – fortunately we had good weather – we urge you to do the same if you haven’t already. We must never forget the sacrifices those who came before us have made – marching, protesting, even dying – to secure every citizen’s right to vote.

photo via National Youth Rights Association

So let’s protect our rights and let the powers that be know when we demand change. If you don’t like your local, state or federal laws or officials, foster change by making your voice heard. If you’re not sure where your polling place is, click here to enter your address to find out. If you don’t have transportation, Lyft and Uber are offering free or discounted rides. If you get to the polls and there is some discrepancy, you have the right to demand a provisional ballot. Keegan-Michael Key and Chris Rock lay the facts out about this beautifully in the video below:

Onward and upward, together! #GoVote

JP Morgan Chase to Pay $24 Million to Settle Class Action Discrimination Lawsuit

(photo via black enterprise.com)

by Jeffrey McKinney via blackenterprise.com

JPMorgan Chase & Co. will pay $19.5 million to more than 200 current and former black financial advisers and their attorneys in a class action settlement with the bank.

The nation’s largest bank also will spend $4.5 million to launch in-house development programs over the next three years to recruit advisers and help them be successful in those positions.

The New York-based bank recently reached the $24 million settlement after six current or former black financial advisers at the bank filed a discrimination suit, basically alleging they were mistreated because of their color.

The settlement will help the banking powerhouse avoid a court battle. The advisers had been seeking class-action status, Bloomberg reported.

“This allows us to continue to focus on the diverse and inclusive environment that is critical to our success,” Tom Kelly, a JP Morgan spokesman, said. “We’ll keep work with our black advisers through recruiting, development, coaching and management training.”

The suit asserts JP Morgan sent white advisers to wealthier sites while assigning black peers to branches that were not as successful. The advisers added black employees received lower pay and had fewer licensed bankers to support them. Further, the suit claims black personnel was blocked from a program that catered to wealthier clients.

“These racial disparities result from Chase’s systemic, intentional race discrimination and from policies and practices that have an unlawful disparate impact on African Americans,” the six plaintiffs said in court papers, Bloomberg reported.

The plaintiffs included Jerome Senegal in Texas, Erika Williams in Illinois, Brent Griffin in Wisconsin, Irvin Nash in New York, Amanda Jason in Kentucky, and Kellie Farrish in California. “Our clients are proud of this outcome and acknowledge that JPMorgan had a choice to fight,” their lawyer Linda Friedman said in an email via Bloomberg. “Each case builds on the last. This is how progress is made.”

Other major banking and financial services firms have faced parallel accusations. Last year, Wells Fargo reached a $35.5 million settlement with a group of black financial advisers who claimed the firm discriminated because of their race. Five years ago, Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch resolved a race discrimination suit for $160 million.

Source: https://www.blackenterprise.com/jpmorgan-chase-discrimination-lawsuituit/

The Voter Registration Deadline For Every State

(image via my.lwv.org)

via getuperica.com

According to headcount.org, here is the list of voter registration deadlines in all 50 states. If you haven’t signed up already, sign up!

Alabama

  • In-Person: You have until Monday, Oct. 22, to register to fill out this form and take it to a voter registration location. You can also conditionally register to vote up to and including on Election Day in person at your county elections office, or, in some counties, at a county elections satellite office or vote center.
  • By Mail: You can download this form to register by mail until Monday, Oct. 22.
  • Online: You can register here until Monday, Oct. 22.

Alaska

  • In-Person: You can register in person until Sunday, Oct. 7.
  • By Mail: You can download this form to register by mail until Sunday, Oct. 7.
  • Online: You can register here until Sunday, Oct. 7.

Arizona

  • In-Person: You can register at a county recorder’s office until Tuesday, Oct. 9.
  • By Mail: Download this form to register by mail before Tuesday, Oct. 9
  • Online: You can register here until Tuesday, Oct. 9.

California

  • In-Person: You have until Monday, Oct. 22, to register to fill out this form and take it to a voter registration location. You can also conditionally register to vote up to and including on Election Day in person at your county elections office, or, in some counties, at a county elections satellite office or vote center.
  • By Mail: To request a paper voter registration application be mailed to you, please call (800) 345-VOTE(8683) or email Elections Division staffby Monday, Oct. 22.
  • Online: You can register here until Monday, Oct. 22.

Colorado

  • In-Person: You can register on Election Day.
  • By Mail: Download this form to register by mail before Monday, Oct. 29
  • Online: You can register here until Monday, Oct. 29.

Connecticut

  • In-Person: You can register in person until Tuesday, Oct. 30. If the voter registration deadline has passed, you can still register to vote in person at the office of your Local Election Office on Election Day.
  • By Mail: You can download this form to register by mail until Tuesday, Oct. 30.
  • Online: You can register here until Tuesday, Oct. 30.

SEE ALSO: Erica Campbell Joins Michelle Obama, Kelly Rowland & More For “When We All Vote” Rally [VIDEO]

Delaware

  • In-Person: You can register in person until Saturday, Oct. 13.
  • By Mail: You can download this form to register by mail until Saturday, Oct. 13.
  • Online: You can register here until Saturday, Oct. 13.

District of Columbia

  • In-Person: You can register in person on election day with proof of residency.
  • By Mail: You can register by mail with this form as long as it is received by 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16.
  • Online: You can register here until 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

Florida

  • In-Person: You can register in person at a tax collectors office, drivers license office or voters office until Tuesday, Oct. 9. But if you or a family member has been discharged from the military or returned from a deployment outside the US after the deadline, you can register until 5 p.m. Nov. 2.
  • By Mail: Twenty nine days before Election Day. But if you or a family member has been discharged from the military or returned from a deployment outside the US after the deadline, you can fill out this form until 5 p.m. Nov. 2.
  • Online: You can register here until Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Georgia

  • In-Person: You can register until Tuesday, Oct. 9.
  • By Mail: Download this form to register by mail before Tuesday, Oct. 9
  • Online: You can register here until Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Hawaii

  • In-Person: You can register until Tuesday, Oct. 9. If you have missed the voter registration deadline, you can still register to vote and a cast a ballot at the same time during early voting at early walk-in locations and on Election Day at your polling place.
  • By Mail: Download this form to register by mail before Tuesday, Oct. 9
  • Online: You can register here until Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Idaho

  • In-Person: You can register until Election Day. (You must show proof of residence to register at the polls on Election Day.)
  • By Mail: Download this form to register by mail before Friday, Oct. 12.
  • Online: You can register here until Friday, Oct. 12.

Illinois

  • In-Person: You can register until Election Day.
  • By Mail: Download this form to register by mail before Tuesday, Oct. 9
  • Online: You can register here until Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Indiana

Chicago Police Officer Convicted of Second-Degree Murder in Shooting of Laquan McDonald

(photo via aljazeera.com)

by Jaweed Kaleem via latimes.com

A jury has found white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder in the 2014 high-profile shooting death of a black 17-year-old, Laquan McDonald. He was also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery.

The verdict marks the first time in five decades that a Chicago police officer has been found guilty of murder in a shooting.

The shooting led to widespread protests and political upheaval in the city, as many residents viewed it as a clear case of police abuse. Dashboard camera video, which a court forced the city to release in 2015, showed that McDonald was shot as he was walking away from Van Dyke and continued to be hit by bullets as he writhed on the ground. In all, Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times in less than 15 seconds.

The murder verdict, announced in a courtroom three miles from the site of the shooting, means Van Dyke will face between four and 20 years in prison. He could face additional time for aggravated battery.

The killing happened on Oct. 20, 2014, after police received reports that somebody was breaking into vehicles in a trucking yard. Officers began following McDonald, who had a 3-inch folding knife.

They radioed a request for an officer with a Taser, but Van Dyke fired before that officer arrived. Van Dyke was charged with murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Van Dyke intended to kill the teen even though he was not a threat to Van Dyke’s life or that of other officers. Van Dyke and his lawyers argued the opposite: that McDonald seemed dangerous and had waved his knife at the officer even after falling to the ground.

Illinois law authorizes an officer to use deadly force when it’s “necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or such other person” or “necessary to prevent the arrest from being defeated by resistance or escape.”

The 12-member jury, which civil rights groups criticized for including only one black juror even though African Americans make up 31% of the city’s population, began deliberations on Thursday after three weeks of proceedings that included more than 40 witnesses.

Over the years, the case led to the resignations of a county prosecutor and the police superintendent as well as criticism of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said last month that he would not run for reelection.

The killing also led to an investigation of Chicago policing by the Department of Justice, which was released last year and found that officers routinely violated the civil rights of minorities and treated them as “animals or subhuman.”

Last year, two former and one current officer were charged in conspiring to cover up for Van Dyke after the shooting. Those officers will go to trial later in the year.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-jason-van-dyke-verdict-2018-story.html

Valentino Dixon, 48, Gets Released from 27 Years of Wrongful Imprisonment after Gaining National Attention for Golf Course Drawings

In a May 2013 file photo, Attica (N.Y.) Correctional Facility inmate Valentino Dixon poses with one of his golf drawings he created while in prison. (Photo: AP)

by  via usatoday.com

Convicted of a crime he never committed and serving time in one of the USA’s most notorious prisons, Valentino Dixon spent much of his free time drawing serene scenes of lush golf courses.

After 27 years behind bars, Dixon, 48, walked out of the Attica (N.Y.) Correctional Facility a free man Wednesday as his murder conviction in a 1991 shooting was officially overturned.

Dixon’s case gained national attention when he was profiled six years ago by Golf Digest for his meticulous attention to detail in the colored-pencil drawings he made of courses such as Augusta National — despite never having picked up a club in his life.

“They always say I don’t need to be drawing this golf stuff,” he has said. “I know it makes no sense, but for some reason my spirit is attuned to this game.”

From there, the publication and several other groups — including the Georgetown University Prison Reform Project — began looking into the questionable circumstances surrounding his conviction.

Even though Dixon had exhausted all his appeals, the Erie County district attorney’s office eventually revisited the evidence in the case, which resulted in a confession from the real gunman.

Upon his release, Dixon said he planned to go “to Red Lobster to celebrate with my family and my support team, then we’re going to go to a park.”

More: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/golf/2018/09/19/golf-artist-inmate-freed-27-years-after-being-wrongfully-convicted/1363037002/

John Bunn, Wrongfully Incarcerated for 17 Years, Says Learning to Read Saved Him – Now He Builds Libraries in Prisons

John Bunn leads a class at Ember Charter School in Brooklyn.
John Bunn leads a class at Ember Charter School in Brooklyn. (photo via cnn.com)

by Alexandra King via cnn.com

The first book John Bunn fell in love with, curled up in his cell at a maximum-security prison in upstate New York, was Sister Souljah‘s novel “The Coldest Winter Ever.”

In the book, a maternal woman advocates for the improvement of her black community in Brooklyn as she watches the people she loves suffer from the consequences of incarceration, violence and a seemingly endless cycle of poverty. “I related to that book on so many levels,” Bunn says.

Bunn knows more than most what it’s like to face injustice. Arrested and imprisoned as an adolescent in New York City, he spent 17 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit and a further decade on parole, fighting for his exoneration. In that time, he battled, among others, the courts, police investigators, PTSD and the challenges of illiteracy. He was 16 before he could read and write.

Today Bunn is 41 and a free man at last, mentoring at-risk young people and advocating for the power of reading through his own program that brings books to prisons.

In many ways, his own story sounds straight out of a Sister Souljah book. Except that Bunn, who survived years of wrongful incarceration with his humanity intact, is determined to write the next chapter himself.

The arrest

Bunn’s ordeal began on August 14, 1991, when he was sitting in the kitchen of his mother’s apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. It was 90 degrees in the shade and the AC was broken. Outside he could hear hip-hop music playing from passing cars and the thwack of basketballs on pavement as kids made their way to the courts. Bunn’s mother, Maureen, was making pancakes, his two-year-old sister, India, cooing in her high chair.

Bunn, 14 years old and out of school for the summer, was ready for a typical day of playing ball and demonstrating his famous back flips in and around the four-block radius between the apartment on Ralph Street (his mom) and the house on St Marks (his grandma). Those four blocks, snug between the love of the two women who raised him, were his whole world.

John Bunn, 14, at home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
John Bunn, 14, at home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

But then, a bang on the door. It was the police. “They wanted to take me down to the police station for questioning,” Bunn recalls now, sitting in that same small apartment festooned with family photos, nearly three decades later. He was taken to Brooklyn’s 77th precinct, put in a room and handcuffed to a pole.

“The interrogation was led by a detective by the name of Louis Scarcella. And he was threatening me, telling me that I was never coming home if I wouldn’t tell him what he wanted to know. He also told me that they already had beat up my co-defendant, that they had slammed his head into a wall and they already had him,” he recalls.

The co-defendant? A 17-year-old Brooklyn boy named Rosean Hargrave. Bunn knew Hargrave “from the block,” although he and the older boy were never more than acquaintances. But, as he soon found out, they were both now suspected of the same crime:

The killing of an off-duty Rikers Island corrections officer named Rolando Neischer. “I kept telling them, “No, I didn’t have any knowledge of it,” Bunn recalls. But Detective Scarcella, who worked in the Brooklyn North homicide unit for years before retiring in 1999, told the young John he did not believe him.

Bunn’s eyes fill with tears as he describes the moment he was placed in a police lineup with “grown men.” As an adult, Bunn, a slight man with a gentle disposition and a shy smile, stands only 5 feet 6 inches. At 14, he estimates he was no taller than 5-foot-2. He was so much smaller than the adults he was lined up with that the detectives had to improvise. They brought in stools so the lineup could be done sitting down. Bunn did what he was told. He sat down and held up a number.

A couple of minutes later, Scarcella came back into the room. “He told me, ‘It was my lucky day,’ that I got picked,” Bunn says, grimacing. “Ever since then, I’ve been fighting to prove my innocence,” he says, wiping his face and adjusting his hat.

On the front of his baseball cap, in bold white letters, are the words, “WRONGFULLY CONVICTED. On the side, “VICTIMS OF DETECTIVE LOUIS SCARCELLA.”

The hat, he adds, “speaks for itself.” Continue reading “John Bunn, Wrongfully Incarcerated for 17 Years, Says Learning to Read Saved Him – Now He Builds Libraries in Prisons”

Michael B. Jordan Teams With Warner Bros. to Launch Diversity and Inclusion Policy for All Future WarnerMedia Productions

Michael B. Jordan will star in “Just Mercy.” (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

WarnerMedia, the parent company of Hollywood studio Warner Bros., announced Wednesday a company-wide policy aimed at increasing diversity and inclusion in front of and behind the camera. The initiative, established in partnership with actor Michael B. Jordan, is to apply to all productions going forward, beginning with Jordan’s “Just Mercy.”

“The WarnerMedia family has introduced an approach that accomplishes our shared objectives, and I applaud them for taking this enormous step forward,” Jordan said in a statement. “I’m proud that our film, ‘Just Mercy,’ will be the first to formally represent the future we have been working toward, together. This is a legacy-bearing moment.”

Since April Reign and #OscarsSoWhite took over headlines beginning in 2014, the entertainment industry has openly grappled with calls for more accurate and representative portrayals of more communities.

But it was, for many, Frances McDormand’s fiery speech at the 2018 Academy Awards ceremony (she won an Oscar for her lead role in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) highlighting the concept of inclusion riders that drove some people to action.

(First coined by Stacy Smith, director of USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, an inclusion rider is a provision that can be placed in stars’ contracts to mandate equity in casting and beyond.)

“Inclusivity has always been a no-brainer for me, especially as a black man in this business,” Jordan said. “[But] it wasn’t until Frances McDormand spoke the two words that set the industry on fire — inclusion rider — that I realized we could standardize this practice. It allowed me to formally pledge my production company, Outlier Society, to a way of doing business.”

WarnerMedia’s policy, which will also apply to HBO and Turner, focuses on having women, people of color, members of LGBTQ communities, folks with disabilities and other underrepresented groups in greater numbers in front of and behind the camera.

Along with the help of his agent, Phillip Sun at WME, Jordan worked with WarnerMedia to launch the policy with “Just Mercy.” Jordan is also an executive producer on the film, which is set to begin production in Atlanta this week.

“I’m proud that Warner Bros., and our sister companies HBO and Turner, are willing to state unequivocally that this is where we stand on diversity and inclusion,” Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Bros.’ chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

“Our policy commits us to taking concrete action to further our goals, to measure the outcomes and to share the results publicly,” he added. “I’m also thrilled that we were able to work with Michael B. Jordan to craft a meaningful policy and framework that will apply to all of our productions, across all of our divisions, going forward.”

Though the policy as written does not include specifics, the company does commit to “in the early stages of the production process, [engaging] with our writers, producers and directors to create a plan for implementing this commitment to diversity and inclusion on our projects, with the goal of providing opportunities for individuals from under-represented groups at all levels.”

“And, we will issue an annual report on our progress,” it said.

“Just Mercy” is a legal drama about a gifted young lawyer’s defense of the most vulnerable in this country and his fight for equal justice in a flawed legal system. It’s based on the book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-warner-bros-michael-b-jordan-20180905-story.html

Colin Kaepernick Named Face of Nike’s 30th Anniversary of ‘Just Do It’ Campaign

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to hollywoodreporter.com, Nike unveiled the face of its campaign celebrating 30 years of its “Just do it” campaign – none other than that of Colin Kaepernick.  In the ad, the former NFL quarterback is looking at the camera, and printed over the image is: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt.”

Kaepernick has been a Nike athlete since 2011, but the Super Bowl QB has not played on a team since 2016. Kaepernick created a national firestorm when he began kneeling during the National Anthem in an effort to protest African-American inequality and police brutality in America.  Since then, a number of players on all teams have kneeled or raised a fist during the anthem for the same protest.

Last season, as the debate over protesting was burning ever hotter, the NFL and the NFL Players Association defended the right for those who wanted to protest peacefully.

According to bleacherreport.com, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the Niners in March 2017 and hasn’t been able to find a new team since. An April visit with the Seattle Seahawks was postponed after he did not assure the franchise he’d stand for the anthem if signed, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media about the decision he made in 2016. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The 30-year-old quarterback filed a collusion grievance against the league, which claimed he was being kept out of the league because of the protests he started. His argument received a boost last week when arbitrator Stephen B. Burbank ruled there was enough evidence to require a full hearing.

Although Kaepernick has received numerous honors for his efforts, including being named GQ magazine’s Citizen of the Year for 2017, the movement he started remains polarizing.

Meanwhile, NFL owners approved anthem rules in May that would force players to stand if they are on the field or they must remain in the locker room during the anthem. Teams with players who did not comply with the new policy would be subject to league fines, and teams could also hand out individual punishments. Those guidelines are on hold, however, as discussions between the NFL and the players’ union continue with the 2018 season set to start this Thursday.

Kaepernick for the Win: Arbitrator Sends His Collusion Case Against NFL to Full Hearing

Colin Kaepernick attends the 2017 ACLU SoCal’s Bill of Rights Dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Dec. 3, 2017. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

by Jon Becker and Jason Green via mercurynews.com

The NFL suffered a stunning blow Thursday when an arbitrator ruled that there is enough evidence in the grievance case of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to send it to a full hearing.

Arbitrator Stephen Burbank denied the NFL’s request for summary judgment and a dismissal of the case, an eye-opening ruling that allows Kaepernick’s collusion grievance against the league to continue. Burbank now will hold a full hearing, possibly before the end of the year, and issue a final ruling.

Kaepernick has been a polarizing figure since he began protesting social injustices by kneeling during the national anthem two years ago. Kaepernick’s representatives, led by celebrity attorney Mark Geragos, filed a suit against the league in October, contending that NFL teams and their owners have conspired to keep him from working in the league since he left the 49ers on March 2, 2017.

In fact, since Kaepernick opted out of his contract and became a free agent, more than 50 other quarterbacks have been signed to NFL deals, while a 30-year-old quarterback who led the 49ers to the Super Bowl five years ago has continued to wait for another chance.

49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said last year he knows why Kaepernick is still unemployed. “What is it about?” he said. “It’s not about football or color. It’s about, ‘Boy, stay in your place.’ ”

Burbank’s ruling now puts the image-conscious NFL under a bigger, more public microscope. NFL owners, coaches and executives will face more intense questioning and cross-examinations in the trial-like setting of a full arbitrator’s hearing than they did in depositions.

Some of the league’s heavy hitters already have been deposed in the case: Commissioner Roger Goodell, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, and Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh were all questioned with Kaepernick present.

Before a gag order was issued in the case, Goodell denied there was a concerted effort to keep Kaepernick sidelined. “Those are football decisions that each team has to make and what they think are the right ways to make their football teams better,” Goodell said.

In arguing to dismiss the case, the NFL contended that Kaepernick’s attorneys had not met the burden of proof stipulated by the collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players association.

The arbitrator’s ruling did not surprise Stanford law professor William Gould, but he said it does indicate Kaepernick has a substantial case. “You would anticipate that given the fact that there have been many depositions taken that there would be issues of fact here, which could possibly allow Kaepernick to prevail,” Gould said.

Gould added that Kaepernick’s legal team still faces real hurdles at the full hearing. “He will have to most likely through trial-like proceedings meet his burden, which is to show through a preponderance of evidence that collusion exists,” Gould said. “And it’s a tough burden in a case like this because the agreement explicitly says you can’t rely simply upon the fact that other players with dissimilar qualifications were picked by clubs for the vacancies that were available.

“We know that Jay Cutler was chosen by Miami,” he added. “He was booed out of Chicago. Surely Kaepernick was preferable to him, and I think that’s the case, but that alone will not carry the day for Kaepernick.”

Kaepernick, aside from holding Know Your Rights camps for inner-city youths, has maintained a low profile. When approached May 8 by this news organization following a workout with Reid at Cal State East Bay in Hayward, Kaepernick said: “We’re not doing interviews. We’re just here getting in a workout.”

Kaepernick won 28 of 58 games as the 49ers starter, first seizing that role during the 2012 season en route to a berth in Super Bowl XLVII, where the 49ers fell to the Ravens. He was 4-2 in playoff action.

Staff writer Cam Inman contributed to this report.

Read more: https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/08/30/arbitrator-agrees-with-kaepernick-his-case-against-nfl-going-to-trial/

Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Overhaul of California Bail System to End Required Cash Payments for Release

A sign advertises a bail bonds company outside San Francisco’s Hall of Justice. After SB 10 takes effect in October 2019, these signs will be a thing of the past in California. (Alex Emslie/KQED)

by  via latimes.com

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a landmark bill today to overhaul the state’s money-bail system, replacing it with one that grants judges greater power to decide who should remain incarcerated ahead of trial.

The two-year effort fulfills a pledge made by Brown last year when he stalled negotiations over the ambitious legislation, saying he would continue to work with lawmakers and the state’s top Supreme Court justice on the right approach to change the system. The new law puts California at the forefront of a national push to stop courts from imposing a heavy financial burden on defendants before they have faced a jury.

“Today, California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly,” he said in a statement.

Senate Bill 10 would virtually eliminate the payment of money as a condition of release. Under last-minute changes, judges would have greater power to decide which people are a danger to the community and should be held without any possibility of release in a practice known as “preventive detention.”

Top state officials, judges, probation officers and other proponents of the efforts lauded the new law. Co-authors Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) called it a transformative day for criminal justice, and a shift away from a pretrial system based on wealth to one focused on public safety.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who helped craft the legislation through the formation of a judicial task force that spent a year studying the issue, described a three-branch solution to address a money-bail system that “was outdated, unsafe and unfair.”

“A person’s checking account balance should never determine how they are treated under the law,” Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

But the historic passage of the bill has been bittersweet for lawmakers, as opponents — including some of the bill’s most ardent former supporters — argued the final version of the legislation would allow judges to incarcerate more people based on subjective criteria, and did not include enough oversight over risk-assessment tools found to be biased against communities of color.

“No one should be in jail because they are too poor to afford bail, but neither should they be torn apart from their family because of unjust preventative detention,” said a statement from American Civil Liberties Union directors Abdi Soltani in Northern California, Hector Villagra in Southern California and Norma Chávez Peterson, representing San Diego and Imperial counties.

California’s bail system has long been ripe for reform, both Democrats and Republicans agreed. Under the current system, bail is set according to a list of fixed fees that depend on the gravity of the crime and often vary widely by county.

Offenders are required to post the amount upfront, or pay a 10% fee — like a down payment — to a bond company before they are released on bail. Those who can’t afford the fee can remain incarcerated up to an additional 48 hours, or longer on weekends or holidays, before they are formally charged and arraigned.

Continue reading “Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Overhaul of California Bail System to End Required Cash Payments for Release”