With California county jails getting overcrowded, several organizations are pushing for new programs that will let qualified defendants await their trial at home without having to pay for bail.

Santa Clara, San Francisco and Santa Cruz have instituted pretrial release programs in order to help reduce the number of inmates inside the jails. Only nonviolent defendants who are unable to afford bail are permitted to stay at home until trial, allowing them to work and take care of their family.

Reportedly, these types of programs are supported by advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union as well as some lawmakers. They feel that the programs promote justice and public safety. Evaluations are done in order to determine if offenders are eligible for pretrial release.

Some argue that the current bail system favors those with money, leaving low-income offenders stranded behind bars until their trial is concluded.

Others feel and statistics bear out that having bail will lessen the likelihood that a defendant will flee because of the amount of money at stake. That kind of financial liability makes them obligated to face their charges or face the lost of that money and possibly property.

At this time, approximately 62% of county jail bed space is being used by those awaiting trial. Many county jails are filled to the maximum and sheriffs are having to release inmates early in order to make room.

Follow our series War On Public Safety for more information and tell us what you think.

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