FAIRIELD — Higher bail can help the community fight crime, say two Fairfield council members – a proposal Solano County District Attorney Donald du Bain says he’ll take to a May 8 meeting of local law enforcement officials.
“It’s definitely a very good idea I’m pursuing,” du Bain said.
Council members John Mraz and Catherine Moy, who seek the change in bail schedules for Solano County Superior Court, cite a study that shows bail here is among the lowest in California.
The 2013 report by the Sacramento-based Public Policy Institute of California includes a county-by-county review that places Solano among 14 counties whose average bail is at the bottom in the state.
Du Bain said if the Solano County Law Enforcement Administrators Association, which includes police chiefs and the sheriff, recommends higher bail schedules, the next step is to take the request to committee chaired by Solano County Superior Court Presiding Judge Bradley Nelson.
“This needs to be carefully considered by our law enforcement chiefs,” du Bain said.
The district attorney said San Joaquin County, which includes the city of Stockton, saw its homicide rate drop sharply after bail for felons charged with illegally possessing a weapon increased from $50,000 to $100,000.
Mraz said the bail change represents a real solution to Fairfield’s increased crime.
“It has to be done,” he said.
Police should be provided such assistance as they fight crime, the councilman said.
“We have good officers here,” Mraz said. “They are very compelled to work hard.”
The Public Policy Institute study states that superior court judges of each county are responsible for preparing, adopting and annually revising a uniform countywide bail schedule.
Over the past decade, bail levels have increased by an average of 22 percent, according to the study.
Advocates of bail reform have argued that increased bail levels and wide variations across counties in California discriminate against poor defendants and lead to overcrowded jails, the study states. The relationship between crime rates and average bail levels is extremely weak, according to the report.
San Francisco Bay Area counties span the range of bail levels, the study noted, and county wealth as measured by median household income doesn’t predict bail schedules. Five counties with the highest incomes in the state, including Marin and San Mateo, have the same average bail as the five counties with the lowest incomes, the report adds.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.