Valley Voices

Kings County sheriff exposes ‘political half-truths’ on California bail costs

Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson
Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson

To avoid measuring the true cost of eliminating California’s bail system, two officials amended their legislation, Senate Bill 10 and pushed the date when the legislation would go into effect until Jan. 1, 2020.

Clearly, this is a misleading maneuver by State Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, and Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, to hide the fiscal impact to our county and local government agencies and to their fellow members of the Legislature, who are being asked to vote for this legislation.

But Hertzberg and Bonta are not stopping there. These two legislators are also playing fast and loose with the cost savings they are claiming under SB10. When considering any savings gained by releasing inmates, these legislators are ignoring that these savings would have to come at the expense of jails closing part of their facilities and laying off deputies.

It is impossible to cut fixed costs by simply releasing inmates. That is equivalent to a hotel saying they are going to cut costs by shuttering a number of their rooms and not renting them out. The infrastructure and staffing cost will still be there, the only saving will be the costs of meals and medical costs.

In addition, why are Hertzberg and Bonta hiding the cost of fugitive recovery? When defendants get released on their “own recognizance” there are massive failures to appear. So who is going to be tasked with looking for those fugitives? Who is going to pay the agencies for that work? How much is that going to cost? Or are we just going to throw up a white flag and let fugitives run wild in our communities?

When looking at New Jersey’s pretrial system that began in January, Newark police reported a 44 percent increase in the number of people who have been arrested more than once during the first six months of 2017.

SB 10 will cost the state, county and local governments an estimated $2 billion to $3.5 billion a year in costs, judging from the actual current pretrial release cost in New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

Towson University, in Maryland, estimated New Jersey’s pretrial release unit cost at $461 million per year - based on 302,000 annual arrests. In California there are approximately 1.2 million annual arrests.

The District of Columbia has a pretrial release system and their cost to supervise and evaluate defendants is running at $65.2 million a year.

The California State Legislature, county and local governments all deserve to know the real cost of Senate Bill 10.

David Robinson is the Kings County Sheriff. Connect with him at dave.robinson@countyofkings.com.

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