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Prop 25 Fails: California Voters Reject Initiative To Replace Cash Bail System

An illustration depicts a bar chart and the label "Prop 25."
(Illustration by Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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California voters have rejected an initiative that would have largely replaced the cash bail system, according to the Associated Press.


Proposition 25 would have upheld a state law passed last year that ended pre-trial detention and cash bail for people accused of most misdemeanors. Those accused of the most violent and serious crimes would have remained locked up. For most crimes in between, a judge would have used a computerized risk-assessment system to determine whether a detainee posed a flight risk or a public safety risk. That assessment would not have taken into account how much money a person had.

The assessments would have categorized the risk of a suspect failing to appear in court or of posing a threat to public safety as low, medium or high. Suspects deemed low risk would have been released from jail, while those deemed a high risk would have remained in jail, with a chance to argue for their release before a judge, according to the California Attorney General. Those deemed a medium risk could have been released or detained, depending on the local court's rules.

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California's bail bond industry was behind Prop 25, but it had some unusual bedfellows in the ACLU of Southern California and the California NAACP. Bail bondsmen opposed the new law because it posed a major threat to their livelihood; the ACLU and NAACP support ending cash bail, but they argued the risk assessment tool that judges would have used doesn't filter out racial bias.


The state Legislative Analyst's Office said Prop 25 would have led to increased state and local costs, possibly in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually, while it would have decreased county jail costs by tens of millions of dollars a year.


The California Democratic Party, Gov. Gavin Newsom and a number of federal and state local elected officials backed Prop 25, along with labor groups such as the California Labor Federation and AFSCME, and organizations working for criminal justice reform.


Besides the bail bond industry, the ACLU of Southern California and the California NAACP, a number of sheriffs, some prosecutors, other local elected officials, and some law enforcement and business groups lined up against Prop 25.

A Note On The Results

  • The first results released included early voting, including mail-in ballots received before election day. In the past, local election officials have said all votes received and processed by the day before the election (in this case, Monday Nov. 2) are included in the first count. However, the high volume of mail-in ballots may mean that's not the case this election.
  • Keep in mind that in tight races particularly, the outcome may not be determined for some time.
  • In California, ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3 may be counted toward the results as long as they arrive within 17 days of the election.
  • Results are finalized by county election officials 30 days after election day.


You can track the status of your ballot:

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If your mail-in ballot is rejected for any reason (like a missing or mismatched signature), your county registrar must contact you to give you a chance to fix it. In Los Angeles County, the registrar will send you a notification by mail and you have until Nov. 28 to reply and "cure" your ballot.


The unprecedented number of early voters and mail-in ballots this election means it's going to take more time to get votes counted. Our priority will be sharing outcomes and election calls only when they have been thoroughly checked and vetted. To that end, we will rely on NPR and The Associated Press for race calls. We will not report the calls or projections of other news outlets. You can find more on NPR and The AP's process for counting votes and calling races here, here and here.


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