SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In the final days before the California State Assembly begins final recess, senators have amended a proposed bail reform bill and placed it up for a vote.
Senate Bill 262, joint-authored by Senator Robert Hertzberg and Senator Susan Skinner, was introduced as a zero-bail bill in January of last year but was shelved following the killing of a Sacramento woman in the Land Park neighborhood.
Kate Tibbitts was killed in her home along with her two dogs last September, according to the Sacramento Police Department. The man charged with her killing is Troy Davis, who had been released from jail under California’s emergency bail schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Zero-bail has been completely removed from the bill, and it now proposes changes to court costs and how much surcharge a bail bondsman may retain in certain instances.
SB 262 would prohibit costs related to conditions of release from being imposed on someone being released on bail or on their own recognizance. The types of fees that could be prohibited include the costs an ankle monitor, for example, according to a spokesperson with Senator Skinner’s office.
If passed, the proposal would require the court to order the return of money or property paid to a bail bondsman by or on behalf of an arrestee to obtain bail under certain circumstances. Those include if the action or proceeding against the arrestee is dropped or if no charges were filed against the arrestee within 60 days of arrest.
“My sister was murdered a year ago and when I looked into the details of what led to her murder, I realized that politics killed my sister,” said Dan Tibbitts, the brother of Kate Tibbitts.
Dan Tibbitts says his sister might be alive today had Davis been required to remain in jail. He blames California’s recent criminal justice reforms under Proposition 47, which lowered some non-violent crimes from felonies to misdemeanor, and Proposition 57 allowing parole consideration for non-violent offenders and sentence credits, along with the emergency zero-bail schedule introduced during the pandemic.
"Our elected officials, they put the well-being of the criminals ahead of their own constituents, the law abiding citizens of our state,” Tibbitts said. “I'm fighting for others... so that they don't have to become victims of crime."
SB 262 supporters call California’s bail system inequitable and say it’s in need of reform.
“Cash bail continues to contribute to the unnecessary pretrial detention of many low-risk defendants simply because they are poor,” said California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara in the bill analysis.
Supporters say the bill represents a critical step forward in securing Californians' rights to the presumption of innocence and due process after being accused of an alleged crime.