Truth be Told: Analyzing No on 25 ads about money bail system

If approved, Prop. 25 would end the bail system
jail cell bars
Posted at 4:21 PM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 22:42:05-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Proposition 25 is a measure that would end the money bail system, replacing it with an assessment for public safety and flight risk. If approved, it would allow SB 10 –signed into law in 2018—to take effect.

Team 10 spoke to a San Diego mother against Proposition 25. She did not want to be identified because her daughter has an open case. She said she was recently able to get her out of jail by paying bail.

“It would be devastating not to have that available,” she told Team 10 over the phone. “Unfortunately, she is caught up in a very unhealthy relationship and she actually was the victim in this.”

She said her daughter has mental health issues and is worried that her daughter would have unfairly stayed in jail longer.

“Not having [bail] available, I wouldn't have been able to get her out especially with this whole pandemic going on. There [are] delays in the courts. Courts are not open.”

While many civil rights groups have worked to reform the current system, some do not believe this proposal is better. The No on 25 ad features the President of the California NAACP.

In the ad, Alice Huffman says “Prop. 25 ends our right to put up bail for anyone, even though they may have been racially profiled. Prop. 25 replaces bail with computer algorithms.”

Backers of the measure believe Proposition 25 is a fairer system. Opponents believe it is a “new discriminatory system of computer-generated profiling,” according to the argument against Prop. 25 in the official voter guide.

Legal analyst Michael Crowley said while parts of the ad are factual, there are misleading statements.

“It is factually correct that this proposition will replace the cash bail [and] bail bondsman with algorithms. They say algorithms like it's a dirty word, but we live with algorithms every day,” Crowley said. “In fact, they're using some algorithms in the court system as we speak.”

In reference the term “black boxes” used in the ad, Crowley said that it is a “term in the industry that is just used to talk about algorithms that they keep them proprietary.”

The American Bail Coalition is a major backer of the No campaign. The Legislative Analyst's Office said if approved, it could increase state and local costs by the mid hundreds of millions of dollars a year. It could also decrease county jail costs in the high tens of millions of dollars.

“In the criminal defense community, there are people on both sides on it,” Crowley said. “The civil rights groups have kind of split on it.”