LA reinstates controversial zero bail policy as judge rules holding those who can't pay is unconstitutional

Los Angeles has reinstated a controversial zero bail policy after a judge ruled that holding suspects in prison because they can’t pay violated their constitutional rights.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lawrence Riff granted a temporary injunction earlier this month stopping the city and county from requiring bail in a class action lawsuit that seeks to end cash bail.

The policy only impacts individuals arrested for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.

“Those arrested for sexual offenses, domestic violence and offenses involving weapons will be exempt from the zero-bail policy,” ABC 7 reported. “Those with repeat offenses while out on no bail can be made subject to a cash payment.”

A man pays cash bail in the bond office to secure his brothers release on Dec. 21, 2022, at Division 5 of the Cook County Jail.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge granted a temporary injunction in a class action lawsuit seeking to end cash bail. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)


The plaintiffs argued in the lawsuit that secured money bail does not reduce crime and is unjust to the poor.

The judge said the defendants had offered “no evidence” to disprove any of the plaintiffs’ evidence and had declined to testify at the hearing. He gave the county, city and plaintiffs 60 days to develop alternative pretrial detention rules.

Los Angeles adopted an emergency zero bail policy during the pandemic to reduce crowding in jails to deter the spread of COVID-19. It was lifted in July 2022.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department told Fox News Digital it would comply with the policy while prioritizing public safety.

Police officers and an LAPD vehicle

A recent study found no bail policies resulted in a spike in violent crime from reoffenders. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)


“The Department is aware of the preliminary injunction regarding the cash bail system, and of course will comply with any court-ordered bail schedule. The County is also working with the court and other stakeholders to explore ways to reduce the number of people held before arraignment because they can’t afford bail and to provide the Sheriff greater release options to safely reduce the jail population, while always prioritizing public safety,” it said in a statement.

The LAPD also reaffirmed their commitment to public safety and protecting individuals’ constitutional rights.

“The Los Angeles Police Department is reviewing the courts recent ruling regarding modifications to the existing Superior Court Standardize Bail Schedule. The Los Angeles Police Department remains committed to safeguarding the constitutional rights of all individuals while also  working with our criminal justice partners in addressing the community safety concerns related to individuals accused of serious crimes,” the department said in a statement.

Fox News Digital also reached out to attorneys in the lawsuit for comment.

Police officers at an intersection

The L.A. County Sheriff’s office said it would comply with the no bail policy while prioritizing public safety. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)


The lead attorney in the case argued that the no bail policy reaffirms the presumption of innocence in our legal system.

“We’re supposed to have a presumption of innocence in this country. It’s not much of a presumption of innocence when you’re in a jail cell,” attorney Salil Dudani said in the lawsuit.

A recent study found California’s zero bail policies resulted in a spike in violent crime from repeat offenders in one county.

Suspects released without bail were rearrested on 163% more charges than those who posted bail, and they reoffended 70% more often. Those reoffenses resulted in felony charges 90% more often — and they were accused of three times as many violent crimes, according to the study.

Fox News’ Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.


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