Historic Victory Ends Money Bail Schedule in San Francisco
Judge Issues Injunction to Remove Price Tag on Freedom
Individuals arrested in San Francisco will no longer be assigned a price tag on their freedom. Federal judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers issued an injunction that will finally put an end to San Francisco’s discriminatory and arbitrary bail schedule. The judge agreed with the settlement proposed by Equal Justice Under Law, our partner Latham and Watkins, LLP, and Sheriff Vicky Hennessy, which details how the system will operate moving forward.
Equal Justice Under Law, a national law non-profit based in Washington, D.C., filed its lawsuit to end San Francisco’s unfair use of money bail in October 2015. On March 4, 2019 Judge Gonzalez Rogers declared the city’s bail schedule unconstitutional, and the injunction issued on September 3rd clarifies how the city will end its bail schedule.
According to the judge’s order, all people who are charged with misdemeanors or non-serious felonies must be released within 18 hours—not just those who could afford to pay money. Law enforcement also has the right to seek an additional 12 hours of detention if they believe someone to be a danger, and the superior court or pre-trial diversion could order that a person remain in jail. Judge Gonzalez Rogers also ordered in the injunction that for serious felonies, individuals will be held until they are seen by a judge, but they may submit an application for consideration of release, which a judge will review. This was one of the primary focuses of the proposed settlement in this case.
Equal Justice Under Law Executive Director, Phil Telfeyan, stated, “Bringing an end to the money bail system is a huge victory for San Franciscans. This means that individuals will no longer be jailed simply because they cannot afford to buy their freedom.” These changes will take effect 180 days from the date of the judge’s ruling. The new policies will only affect people who are arrested after this ruling.
Phil Telfeyan added, “This case has been ongoing for five years, and we are relieved to see an end to the discriminatory and unconstitutional bail system. This is a win for San Francisco, and we hope that other cities and states will soon follow.”