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Deep Dive with Laura Arnold

Podcast: On the Ballot: Prop. 25 and Money Bail in California

Thousands of people are behind bars in California simply because they can’t afford bail, while others are released because they have access to money. This is a critical problem across the country, but in California, voters actually have a chance to make a historic decision this Election Day: They’ll decide whether California will become the first state to abolish money bail. In this episode, Laura Arnold interviews California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Alliance for Safety and Justice President Lenore Anderson about Prop. 25

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, seen above on election night in 2018, discusses Proposition 25 and bail reform in his state on the new episode of the "Deep Dive with Laura Arnold" podcast. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Under the current bail system in California — and in much of the country — people arrested for minor, non-violent offenses who can’t afford to pay bail are detained, sometimes for weeks or months, awaiting their court date, while wealthy people charged with serious violent crimes can walk free.

While virtually everyone except the bail bond industry agrees the money bail system is predatory and needs reform — the issue enjoys enormous bipartisan support — change has been frustratingly slow, despite the fact that millions of Americans contributed more than $90 million to community bail funds this summer to bail out protestors demonstrating for racial justice. 

Enter California. Lengthy negotiations in the state Legislature and efforts by bail reform advocates led to the passage of SB 10 in 2018, a law that would abolish money bail and replace it with a system that presumes release for people charged with minor, nonviolent offenses, and reserves detention for those judges deem pose a safety risk to others. Yet at the eleventh hour, negotiations over the bill soured, and the bail industry swooped in to take advantage, gathering the necessary signatures to put the issue on the ballot this November.

In this episode, Laura interviews California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Alliance for Safety and Justice President Lenore Anderson about Prop. 25, the ballot measure that would enact SB 10. They explore the measure’s proposed changes, what continues to make it controversial among some advocates, and the historic opportunity Californians have to become the first state in the country to say goodbye to money bail.

How to listen

Listen to the podcast in the player above or on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app.

About the host

Laura Arnold is the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Arnold Ventures, founded in 2010, and an attorney and former oil company executive. Read more about her here.