YOLO COUNTY, Calif. — The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office is again criticizing the county’s continued use of $0 bail and is blaming hundreds of new crimes on the policy.
“Since April 13, 2020, individuals released on $0 bail have committed over 908 new crimes,” stated a press release issued by DA Jeff Reisig’s office. Those new crimes include 387 felonies and 521 misdemeanors, the DA’s office said.
According to the DA’s office, 522 suspects have been released a total of 680 times on $0 bail since the start of the pandemic. Of those released, nearly 42% were arrested again at least once, the DA’s office said.
In order to keep jail populations down to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Judicial Council of California (JCC) adopted an emergency bail schedule in April 2020. The policy included a $0 bail for people accused of lower-level crimes. The $0 bail policy resulted in California’s jails reducing their populations by more than 20,000 people, according to the JCC.
The JCC rescinded that emergency bail schedule in June, but the Yolo County Superior Court decided to keep the policy in place.
Approximately 50% of all inmates in Yolo County have been vaccinated, according to Yolo County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Matthew Davis.
“To date, we have not yet had a confirmed case of COVID-19 in our jail. All incoming inmates now receive increased medical screenings. All inmate workers are now screened on a daily basis. All staff members are screened prior to the start of each shift. All persons entering the jail also receive a medical screening,” Davis said.
RELATED: How to get vaccinated in Yolo County
Davis said cleaning at the jail has increased two-fold, sanitizer is provided to inmates and mail is held for 24 hours prior to distribution. A 10-bed isolation unit has also been created to accommodate any inmate showing symptoms of COVID-19 and a 50-cell pod has also been prepared, if necessary.
Reisig’s office said the Superior Court indicated an end to $0 bail once a new bail schedule is finalized. That proposed schedule would drastically reduce bail amounts – as much as a 10x reduction in some cases, according to the DA’s office.
Yolo County Superior Court Chief Executive Officer Shawn Landry issued the following statement in response to the DA’s criticism, saying in part, “Yolo Superior Court adopted its Emergency Bail Schedule (EBS) in response to concerns of COVID-19 outbreaks in the congregate setting of our county jail. The emergency schedule was adopted after consultation and with the support of our criminal justice partners, including the Sheriff (who runs the jail), the District Attorney, and Public Defender.”
“So far, we understand that there have not been any COVID-19 outbreaks in Yolo’s jail. In contrast, there have been outbreaks in other jails and prisons, as reported in the media. Such outbreaks can pose obvious public health risks and also could disrupt the criminal justice system,” Landry added.
Landry went on to defend the county’s use of the $0 bail system, saying it covers misdemeanors and lower-level felonies but excludes serious and violent felonies; it reduces but does not eliminate bail for certain immediate offenses; and that the data on recidivism is incomplete without being compared to the rate before $0 bail was put in place.
“Bail remains a subject of statewide discussion by the public, the Legislature (SB 262), and the Supreme Court (see in re Humphrey), and like other courts Yolo Superior Court is committed to striking the right balance between the rights of the accused, public health, and public safety,” Landry wrote.
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