LA County Tiptoes Forward on Bail Reform

bail reform
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors should give quick approval Wednesday to a proposal by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl to consider overhauling the county’s money bail system. Too bad it’s the only thing about this vital effort that could be done with any urgency.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors should give quick approval Wednesday to a proposal by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl to consider overhauling the county’s money bail system.

It should be obvious that it’s long past time to reconsider a system that keeps L.A. County jails crowded with people who are just cooling their heels awaiting trial because they can’t afford to pay bail, while their riskier but richer cellmates can buy their way out.

Kuehl deserves praise for pressing forward on the issue, and for crafting a courageous and creative motion written in that peculiar language known as county-ese. It’s careful to not claim too much leadership for Kuehl or to alienate any other supervisor, to name every possible stakeholder (from families of the incarcerated to the Criminal Courts Bar Assn.), and to give a shout-out to the very same bail bond industry that protects and defends a costly system that several states have eliminated.

That’s how you have to do things in L.A. County — on tiptoes. Many previous efforts at safe pretrial release have been spiked because various officials or interest groups felt some initiative was moving past them without the imprint of their own supposedly guiding hands.

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Los Angeles Times Editorial Board