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Press Contact: Jeremy Cherson, Director of Communications

(LOS ANGELES, CA) – The Bail Project has announced its opposition to California Proposition 25, Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments Referendum (2020):

“A vote yes on Proposition 25 would put SB10 into effect, replacing cash bail in California with a system of algorithmic risk assessments. Tragically, while SB10 would end cash bail—and along with it an industry that profits from injustice, poverty, and desperation—the law offers a cure that is worse than the problem.   

SB10 attacks the problem of wealth-based pretrial detention by ending cash bail, but the entire architecture of the law rests on the use of flawed statistical tools that codify systemic racism and could lead to higher rates of incarceration in some jurisdictions. This isn’t just our opinion. Data scientists, researchers, and legal scholars have raised these concerns directly with The Judicial Council of California. Institutions that previously supported the use of these algorithms have also come out against them. The warnings are clear: While our nation is finally grappling with the legacy of systemic racism in our courts and law enforcement, these tools will cement racial disparities and take us backwards. 

At a time when most Californians support reforms to law enforcement, including shifting police funding to social services and mental health resources, SB10 creates a massive new surveillance and supervision bureaucracy called  “Pretrial Assessment Service” agencies to implement this flawed algorithmic approach. This is antithetical to the problem-solving, public health approach that we could take in the pretrial context and valuable resources will be invested in a new proto-law enforcement apparatus, rather than real community solutions and meaningful support for people trapped in cycles of poverty and incarceration.

We must end cash bail by addressing the deeper systemic problems, not by replacing it with automated bias and expanding law enforcement. Algorithms or cash bail is a false choice—we can and must do better.” 

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