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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

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The new Washington

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.