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California Gov. Jerry Brown (D). Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

California has become the first state to abolish cash bail, a step that advocates say will prevent poor defendants from being incarcerated because they are unable to pay their set bail.

The details: Under the measure, which goes into effect in October 2019, most suspects arrested for low-level offenses or nonviolent felonies would be released within 12 hours of being booked. Those facing more serious, violent felonies would be ineligible for pretrial release.

Judges would also rely on a new pretrial assessment process to consider factors including previous offenses and flight risk, for each defendant. This is to ensure released individuals don’t pose a public safety threat.

"California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly."
— Gov. Brown (D), who signed the bill into law, in a statement.

The other side: Criminal justice reform advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union which was one of the early supporters of a prior version, now believe the law could do more harm than good. The ACLU supports eliminating bail, but said the measure in its current from gives courts too much power.

“We oppose the bill because it seeks to replace the current deeply-flawed system with an overly broad presumption of preventative detention. This falls short of critical bail reform goals and compromises our fundamental values of due process and racial justice.”
— The ACLU of California said in a statement.

Go deeper

5 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

5 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.