What Does the L. A. County ‘Zero-Bail’ Decision Mean to Burbank?

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Los Angeles County Courts has implemented a zero-bail system as of October 1 for defendants accused of non-violent or non-serious crimes. The new policy eliminates the existing cash bail system for all but the most serious of crimes in the county. The zero-bail will apply to misdemeanors and specific non-violent felonies. The Los Angeles Superior Court officially dubbed this policy as Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols (PARP) .

Most people arrested on suspicion of non-violent or non-serious offenses will either be cited and released in the field or booked and released at a police or sheriff’s station with orders to appear in court on a specific arraignment date once charged with a crime. Arrestees believed to present a heightened threat to the public or be a flight risk will be referred to a magistrate judge, who will review the case and determine whether the person should be held in custody pending arraignment or released under non-financial restrictions such as electronic monitoring.

In Burbank, the City Attorney’s office handles people arrested in Burbank for misdemeanor arrests. City Attorney Joe McDougall says his staff will continue prosecuting crimes, no matter the bail situation, “Individuals should be held accountable for their actions. The new directives will allow repeat offenders to be released with a promise to appear in Court. Although this hinders our ability to ensure an appearance in court, we will continue to hold individuals accountable and keep the community safe.

The Burbank City Attorney’s office will continue to prosecute misdemeanor crimes that occur within the city’s boundaries, regardless of severity. We are committed to seeking justice for the community. The procedures that are currently in place only result in an individual being transferred to the County Jail if he or she remains in custody. The custodial status of an individual will not impact our decision to file criminal charges, if justified, under the law,” he also added.

Chief Michael Albanese of the Burbank Police Department, relying on the L. A. County District Attorney’s office to prosecute felonies in Burbank, really has no choice but to follow the mandate, saying, ” The elected District Attorney of the County of Los Angeles has implemented a zero-bail policy, also referred to as Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols, or PARP, by the Los Angeles Superior Court.  The Burbank Police Department plans to adhere to the policy while continuing to provide professional public safety service to our community.”

The zero-bail system was implemented in Los Angeles County to address the issue of cash bail discriminating against minorities and the poor. Wealthy people arrested for more serious crimes could afford to pay for their release from custody, while low-income people accused of lesser offenses were forced to remain behind bars. The new system was enacted following criticism that cash bail favored the rich. The zero-bail policy is expected to reduce the number of people held in jail before trial, which can lead to job loss, eviction, and other negative consequences.

Of course, this is nothing more than a band-aid on a greater problem. So many have had to spend a longer time in jail because the court system is backed up. With prosecutors over-taxed with numerous cases and defendants, limited court houses and overcrowded jails, they thought this would be the correct step.

What is needed is more courts and jail space to hold convicted suspects. Of course, that would take money to build new courts in Los Angeles County (Burbank currently has a courthouse here in the City at Third and Olive), and more prosecutors, which would mean a hefty tax increase for County residents to pay the expenses.

Add to that the need for additional jail space, which everyone agrees is needed to stop all early releases. And while everyone agrees with building more jails, no one wants those jails built in the neighborhoods.

Until you solve the larger overall issues, you are going to get policies like the zero-bail.

Only time will tell if this will help the situation or if habitual criminals will now take advantage of the new policy.

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