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Whittier 360 News Network
Whittier, CA - The City of Whittier has announced a joint action with 11 other cities across Los Angeles County, seeking an injunction to delay the implementation of a new zero-bail schedule, which is set to go into effect tomorrow, October 1, 2023. The city leaders emphasize that this change poses a significant threat to public safety due to a lack of oversight and risk assessment of those released.
According to the press release issued by Whittier Mayor Joe Vinatieri, the new bail schedule allows individuals arrested for a wide range of offenses, from car theft to drug sales, to be released with a mere notice to appear in court. This notice could be scheduled weeks or even months following the arrest, creating significant concerns among local law enforcement and community members about the potential for re-offending during that period.
Mayor Vinatieri stated, "At the local government level, our number one responsibility is to keep people safe. This zero-bail schedule is just another policy that leaves us less safe than we should be."
The cities partnering in this joint action are Arcadia, Artesia, Covina, Downey, Glendora, Industry, Lakewood, La Verne, Palmdale, Santa Fe Springs, and Vernon. The coalition argues that the new zero-bail schedule displays an egregious lack of concern for the safety of residents, businesses, and law enforcement personnel.
Critics of the new zero-bail system point to the absence of an individual risk assessment, which has previously been the standard procedure in determining the appropriateness of bail or detainment. Under the current system, some cases will be subject to a "magistrate review" by an on-call judge. However, this will only apply to certain offenses deemed to present a "greater risk to the public," like sexual battery or crimes against children or elders.
Previously, "catch and release" policies have shown their limitations as officers are often unaware of an arrestee's prior history in other jurisdictions. This loophole has made it easier for those already out on zero bail to commit further offenses and be released immediately to re-offend. The City of Whittier is pushing for a more comprehensive case review process as a result.
In a rallying call to communities and stakeholders, the Whittier City Council urges citizens to advocate for a more sensible and responsible criminal justice system.