Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

This week, California became the first state to abolish cash bail — a major setback for the largely unregulated bail bond industry, which is only legal in the U.S. and Philippines.

The big picture: If a criminal defendant can't afford their bail, they are left with two choices — go to jail while awaiting trial, or find a bondsman to front the money for an additional fee. The $2 billion bail bondsman industry in the U.S. makes its money off the poor, who are already disadvantaged by the justice system.

Activists groups, along with state and local governments, have been taking steps to reform the bail system and bail bond industry. The latest:

  • California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law this week ending the use of cash bail in the state entirely.
  • A Federal court ruled in July that there is no constitutional right to cash bail, allowing the state of New Jersey to continue a new program which prioritizes non-monetary forms of bail instead.
  • Google and Facebook stopped allowing bail bonds services to advertise on their platforms.
  • The total amount of money paid in premiums to insurance companies nationwide for writing bail bonds dropped 3.8% in 2017 after five years of increase, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio) sent a letter to 22 insurance agencies earlier this month asking about their involvement in underwriting bail bonds in order to shed more light on how the business operates.
  • Maryland implemented changes to its bail system last year, asking judges to give the least demanding release conditions.
  • In Mississippi, several cities have lost lawsuits brought by the The MacArthur Justice Center and Southern Poverty Law Center, forcing them to make changes to their bail system. In Corinth, defendants now have more time to pay their bail and can pay in installments, according to the AP.
  • In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been looking into problems with the bail bond industry and this month proposed new regulations to improve it.

The other side: These reforms have also led to unintended consequences and have been met with skepticism from some justice reform advocates.

  • In Maryland, the number of people being held on cash bail decreased, but the number of defendants jailed without bond rose by 14.5%, the Washington Post reported.
  • Advocates in California have similar concerns — that the new law could lead to more people being sent to jail without bond before being convicted of a crime.

What to watch: The pushback from the lucrative bail bond industry, which is already seeking to overturn California's new law, according to the LA Times.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Kamala Harris resigns from Senate seat ahead of inauguration

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris submitted her resignation from her seat in the U.S. Senate on Monday, two days before she will be sworn into her new role.

What's next: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve out the rest of Harris' term, which ends in 2022.

3 hours ago - World

Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.

Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, CFPB

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Why it matters: Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!