Zero Bail, Ghost Guns, Pandemic Blamed
“Preliminary numbers from California's biggest cities suggest that 2020's stunning 30-percent increase in the statewide murder rate—the largest since 1960—has continued to rise this year ,” according to Capitol Weekly, Dec. 12, 2021.
“It’s a very, very dangerous time right now in California,” said Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. She cited California's controversial “zero bail” policy as part of the problem. In San Diego County, there was an almost 65% re-arrest rate of zero-bail defendants, and almost two-thirds of those arrestees were for felonies, said District Attorney Summer Stephan.
What Is Zero Bail?
Zero bail means if an arrested person is eligible for release, they are released on their own recognizance (OR) with no cash bail. Zero bail advocates say cash bail imposes an unfair hardship on low-income defendants. Zero bail policies vary from county to county throughout California.
The Sacramento D.A.'s office reported approximately 5,100 individuals were released on zero bail/OR in Sacramento County between March 18, 2020, through Sept. 1, 2021. About 1,700 of those individuals were re-arrested 4,400 times. Most re-arrests were for nuisance crimes. However, there were 27 felony re-arrests for domestic violence and several high-profile murders and other violent crimes committed with fully automatic ghost guns.
Why Is the Homicide Rate Rising?
“Theories abound, but no one knows for sure why, after decades of decline, the murder rate should rise so startlingly,” the Capitol Weekly report said. In addition to the introduction of zero bail, other contributing factors include additional criminal justice reforms, civil unrest, legal and illegal gun sales, and of course, the wildcard pandemic.
Regardless of the rising homicide rate, the overall violent crime rates are still significantly below the historic highs in the early ‘90s, according to the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.
Use Zero Bail Time Wisely
Zero bail may offer a reprieve of sorts, but if you've been charged with a serious crime, you will still face prosecution. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can make a world of difference. Call the Sigal Law Group at 818-325-0570 for a free consultation.