No Bail vs the Public’s Safety

CRIME WATCH - In December 2021 Los Angeles City Council member Joe Buscaino made a resolution to reinstate cash bail for those individuals arrested for low level, non-violent criminal offenses throughout the whole of the county of Los Angeles. 

The California State Supreme Court recommended and  enacted a ZERO Bail mandate for those individuals arrested for low level  and non-violent criminal offenses in response to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus  throughout both local city and county jails facilities within the state of California. 

The statewide mandated ZERO Bail policy officially ended on June 20th, 2021. However various counties throughout the state could maintain their own ZERO Bail policy when and where necessary to protect the health of their communities. 

The Eagle Rock Neighborhood council board members in a vote of 14-0 with one abstention wrote a letter to the Los Angeles City Council where they stated that they firmly opposed council member Joe Buscaino' resolution to reinstate cash bail for those individuals arrested for criminal offenses within the county of Los Angeles. 

This is not the first time that a Los Angeles Neighborhood Council has overstepped their roles as Board members. A few years back then the President of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council  president  Rocio Rivas wrote a letter which stated that the Neighborhood Council endorsed the approval of liquor licenses for many new business establishments in the Highland Park area. Avery large community meeting was held and Ms. Rivas was mandated to write a letter resending her previous letter. Ms Rivas by writing her initial letter did not represent the feelings of the residents and constituents of the Highland Park community. 

Now the same can be said about the Eagle Rock Neighborhood  Council Board members We already know that the board member who is head of their public safety committee voted to Defund LAPD. . By addressing the ZERO Bail policy did the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council Board members reach out to the business community, the home owners, and all other constituents within our Eagle Rock Community before they wrote their letter to the Los Angeles City Council recommending to continue with the ZERO Bail Policy. 

I personally communicated with many business owners , residents and constituents within the Eagle Rock community and most knew nothing about the letter written by the Eagle Rock Neighborhood council and were upset that they would write such a letter. Residents and constituents only became aware of the letter in question after an article written by the  T.A. Hendrickson and Bill Hendrickson appeared in a blog site called CRIME WATCH. 

I would hope that all read the news article written by the Hendrickson's and note how biased the article is. Also note the lack of old fashioned investigative reporting. 

The news article refers to statements written in the letter  by the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council but fails to investigate if indeed the statements as noted are true and accurate.  The letter written by the Eagle Rock Neighborhood council also cites research data ( left out who did the research and who paid for the research). 

Anyone who enrolls in a Statistics class can tell you that research data can be manipulated , twisted, turned inside out  and falsified to reach a favorable outcome to support ones objective findings. 

The news article fails to address the following. 

More than fifty years ago established within most counties within our state  and located in  each Superior Court buildings was a special unit referred to as the OR Unit. ( Own Recognizance)  It

continues today. However because of the Coronavirus it has been somewhat curtailed. The OR unit was to provide an opportunity for those arrested for misdemeanors and felonies the opportunity to be released from custody after an arrest for a criminal offense without having to post bail. In other words the same as ZERO Bail.  Each unit was staffed by an individual trained on how to complete investigations , ask the correct and right questions.  First by having face to face contact with the arrestee as soon as possible after being arrested, contact with employers, family members and anyone who might vouch and or support the individual in custody and lastly  review of their  criminal arrest history if there is one. Then the OR Investigator would notify the courts , namely the Defense lawyer, Public Defenders office, city attorneys, district attorneys office and the Judge that the person was eligible for OR release.  The objective was to expedite the investigation  as to allow one to be released from custody without posting bail. This takes  place most often  even before formal criminal charges had been filed. 

Also  lets take a look at California Penal Code  825.  If an individual is arrested either for a low -level or violent criminal offenses ( to and include murder ) and has not been brought before a magistrate  within 48 hours ( court working days ) then by law they must be released from custody without posting bail. 

What has taken place in our state as a result of ZERO BAIL?  Individuals who have been arrested for suspect involvement in criminal behavior were released on ZERO BAIL even if they were currently under LA. County or other county  probation supervision, under state parole supervision,  had other minor active warrants issued for their arrest and or had an extensive criminal arrest history to and include failure to appear in court. 

We need to go back to the use of the OR release procedure instead of  the rapid release of individuals  on ZERO BAIL. 

California State Senator Bob Hertzberg who I might add has now thrown his hat in the ring to run for a Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor upcoming open seat wrote his Bail Reform Bill,  Senate Bill 262 which if signed by the Governor would mandate into law ZERO CASH bail for the state of California. He wrote this Senate bill after California voters defeated Proposition 25 in November 2000. The vast majority of California voters voted to keep cash bail. 

Hertzberg pulled his Senate Bill 262 only after a California parolee named  Troy Davis ( active parole status) who had been released from state prison early  was arrested for Grand Theft auto in June 2021 ( low level criminal offense) and  released on ZERO BAIL.Davis. Davis failed to show up for his court arraignment on June 22nd, 2021.He had an extensive  criminal history which included two felony strike convictions. 

Davis was subsequently arrested on September 4th, 2021  and charged with the murder, arson, burglary, and sexual assault of a 61 year old female in Land Park located in the Sacramento area.  The victims dogs were also killed by Davis.  Davis was also charged with parole violations and other outstanding warrants which were not related to the murder investigation. 

The Land Park Association stated that their neighbors death could have been prevented if a dangerous felon had not been allowed to prowl the streets of Sacramento.  Per. the association president , we worry about our public safety and feel that our elected officials are not paying attention. 

The California District Attorneys Association voiced outrage that Davis was released on ZERO BAIL  when he had prior prison convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and robbery. Now both of those felon convictions are classified as non-violent and low-level. 

How many innocent  people have become victims by individuals released on ZERO BAIL within the city and county of Los Angeles. 

Inmate Ibarra recently arrested for the murder of a 14 year old boy which took place in Pasadena had been previously released on ZERO Bail for three separate criminal offenses. Now Ibarra is being held on a 4 million dollar bail.  This killing was gang related. 

Kerry Bell a 46 year old transient was arrested on Jan.13th, 2022 and has been charged with the murder of 70 year old nurse Sandra Shells. Shells had been employed at USC Medical Center for over 30 years.  The murder took place near LA Union Station. Bell had previously been released on ZERO Bail in 2021. 

Jonathan Madden was arrested on Jan.10th, 2022 and has been charged with murder of 41 year old Alejandro Garcia-Galicia a father of three who was killed while working his shift at Taco Bell. Suspect Madden had been previously released on ZERO BAIL in 2020 and 2021. Madden is now being held on  2 million bail and no bail. 

Shawn Smith arrested for the murder of 24 year old Brianna Kupfer which took place in a furniture store located in  Hancock Park had previously been  released from custody on ZERO BAIL.  Smith has an extensive criminal arrest history as noted by Richard Winton in the Los Angeles Times which included  arrests and convictions in other states. 

Lastly lets look at two individuals now being held in US Federal custody for the murder of off duty LAPD officer Fernando Arroyos.  Jesse Contreras an identified gang member  had been previously on ZERO BAIL in 2020 and again in 2021 

Ernesto Cisneros  also identified as a gang member was also released on ZERO BAIL in 2020 and 2021. 

There are hundreds more cases like these where individuals were released on ZERO Bail only to go on and involve themselves in more criminal offenses. 

To have a blanket ZERO BAIL policy without careful review is just plain wrong. Each case needs to be reviewed separately. 

First and foremost is Public Safety. 

(Caroline Aguirre is a retired 24-year State of California law enforcement officer, LAPD family member, community activist and Neighborhood Watch captain. Aguirre is a CityWatch contributor.)