They were in; now they're out: Manhattan Beach has withdrawn its participation
in a lawsuit filed by the
City of Whittier and a coalition of other cities calling for an end to LA County's recently adopted “zero-bail” schedule.
The city released the following statement on Wednesday:
Manhattan Beach withdrew its participation in a lawsuit filed by the
City of Whittier and a coalition of other cities seeking an injunction
to enjoin the recently adopted “zero-bail” schedule in Los Angeles
County. The City Council directed staff to reallocate efforts to other
more effective public safety initiatives.
In 2023, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County approved a revised
set of bail schedules that included Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols,
which determined release status based on an arrestees’ risk to public or
victim safety and their likelihood of returning to court while reducing
reliance on money bail as a condition of release for many of those
arrested in Los Angeles County for non-violent, non-serious felonies and
misdemeanors. Subsequently, the city of Whittier in partnership with
other cities across Los Angeles County, filed an action seeking an
injunction to postpone implementation of the new zero-bail schedule.
Manhattan Beach joined the lawsuit on October 17, 2023, and has now
withdrawn from that lawsuit to redirect funding to other public safety
“Public safety is our number one priority in Manhattan Beach. Our
commitment remains solidly grounded in a criminal justice system that
safeguards our community,” said Mayor Joe Franklin. “The decision to
withdraw from the ‘zero-bail’ litigation reflects our dedication to
continuously assess and improve our public safety policies, ensuring
that our resources are consistently spent on the most effective and
immediate efforts. While some progress was made in the ‘zero-bail’ case,
it is clear that our community will have to combat crime through
additional avenues, and we continue our steadfastness in those efforts.”
Last year, the City Council authorized and appropriated money for a
number of public safety efforts. Most notably, the Council authorized
hiring seven new police officers and authorized three firefighters in
fire suppression, allocated funding to a security camera program, and
other measures designed to safeguard our community. Public safety
represents 57% of the City’s budget in this current fiscal year and
remains a top priority for the community.
the traditional bail schedule model, alleged crimes correspond with
specific dollar amounts, which individuals can post as bail to secure
release prior to their arraignment. The arraignment is typically held
within 48 hours of arrest if the arrestee is detained, regardless of the
arrestee’s risk to public safety and likelihood to return to court.
newly adopted felony and misdemeanor bail schedules, which include the
new Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols, replace uniform misdemeanor and
felony bail schedules for arrestees before arraignment.
According to the L.A. County Superior Court
of assigning a money bail amount to low-level, non-violent, non-serious
offenses, the majority of these arrestees will be released at the
location of arrest or booked and then released on their own recognizance
with a promise to appear at arraignment. Those who are arrested for
certain crimes that pose a greater risk to the public will be referred
to a magistrate, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, who will
conduct individual determinations of the appropriate non-financial
release terms and conditions that are necessary to reduce the risk to
the public and victim safety and the likelihood of the arrestee
returning to court.
The reasoning for the
"zero bail" policy, as explained by the court, is that
person’s ability to pay a large sum of money should not be the
determining factor in deciding whether the person, who is presumed
innocent, stays in jail before trial or is released. Serious
and violent crimes are not affected by the new policy and still require
bail; and those who commit capital offenses such as murder are not
given the opportunity for release.
in light of recent crimes, there had been public outcry against the
policy (which was initially started during COVID, then stopped in May,
then started again October 1.)
The Whittier-led lawsuit argues that the zero-bail policy does not adequately provide for public safety.
to the lawsuit, the zero-bail policy imposes "a blanket lifting of
whole swaths of categories from being bailable offenses, and requires
only citation and release, or booking and release, as to blanket
categories of offenses -- with no detention or individualized
evaluations or assessments of particular crimes or individuals. This
removes the process by which law enforcement officers address repeat
offenders...or particular circumstances of crimes, offenses, victims or
other critical considerations, particularly as to those implicating
public safety concerns or the seriousness of the offense that may not be
reflected merely in the charges."
At the time that Manhattan Beach joined the lawsuit last October, it was expected to cost the city around $10,000; or less if other cities joined in as well.
Examples of Crimes Covered
covered under the cite-and-release or book-and-release policy include
most theft offenses, vehicle code violations, and offenses against
property such as petty theft or vandalism.
that require magistrate review include offenses involving firearms,
such as possession of a loaded firearm; sexual battery; violence against
children or elders; contact with a minor with intent to commit a sexual
offense; and battery against an elder or dependent adult. Those who are
arrested for a felony while on parole or on post-release community
also subject to magistrate review.
involving serious or violent felonies and domestic violence offenses
must still post bail to be released prior to arraignment.
offenses such as murder with special circumstances and certain felonies
are not eligible for release before arraignment.
assessments that determine the terms of release that are similar to
L.A. County's "zero bail" policy are also in effect in New Jersey,
Kentucky, and Washington, D.C.
mission remains unchanged - we arrest people, we take them to jail. We
submit good cases to the D.A. for review and filing," said Johnson. "No
matter what the winds of other parts of criminal justice system bring
us, we remain steadfast in doing what we do."