In response to a report calling for reforms to pre-trial detention in the state of California, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi has announced plans to challenge every single criminal case in which bail is set for the defendant.
The Public Defender’s Office has already filed 282 challenges to criminal cases filed since Oct. 10, which is roughly 14 times more than usual for that time frame.
In each case, the court will have to hold a hearing in which the judge will have to consider the defendant’s means and alternatives to incarceration.
Adachi says the move comes after two recent developments, including a report released Tuesday by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye calling for an end to the “unsafe and unfair” cash bail system, which incarcerates the accused before they’re convicted based on their ability to pay rather than any potential threat to public safety.
The other involves a 64-year-old San Francisco man who has been in jail since May 23, when he was arrested on suspicion of stealing $5 and a bottle of cologne from a neighbor.
Kenneth Humphrey’s case went to the appeals court, which ordered state Attorney General Xavier Becerra to show cause for Humphrey’s continued detention.
Becerra did not set Humphrey free, but he did indicate that it would not defend the practice of setting high bail without considering the defendant’s ability to pay.
Humphrey’s bail was initially set at $600,000 bail, although it has since been lowered to $350,000. But freedom still remains outside Humphrey’s financial reach, according to Adachi.