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Criminal Justice

Getting Out of Jail Just Got Easier — Here's Why

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FILE: Signs advertise bail bond companies next to the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in 2018. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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Its not quite a get out of jail free card. But a California Supreme Court ruling that says its unconstitutional to keep someone behind bars merely because they can't make bail is likely going to dramatically reduce bail for some and eliminate it entirely for others.

The court said there must be clear and convincing evidence someone is a threat to public safety or a flight risk before ordering they post bail. And in that case, the amount must be affordable to the defendant. The justices left open the question of defining a threat to public safety, meaning county judges will have wide discretion.

The landmark ruling stops short of eliminating cash bail and keeps in place the ability to detain people in jail without bail for the most serious crimes.

L.A. District Attorney George Gascón praised the ruling, as did the California Bail Agents Association, which called the decision "fair to all sides."

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