Los Angeles Zero Bail Policy Coinciding With Crime Surge

Los Angeles has seen a significant increase in crime since city leaders eliminated most types of bail. The crime wave comes as a number of other locations, including New York and Illinois grapple with the results of bail reform efforts. 

Los Angeles reinstated the zero-bail policy in May following a lawsuit. The Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon (D) separately utilized a no-bail policy until 2022.

The city has seen a significant increase in crime since the 2020 George Floyd riots. Overall, Los Angeles suffered an 11% increase in its overall crime rate last year. Specifically, the city saw a number of violent and property crime rates increase. In one neighborhood of the city, the crime rate was nearly 400 offenses per 1,000 people.

Overall violent crime has increased significantly in the city’s downtown, jumping by 25% since 2019.

In July, Illinois became the first state in the union to bar the use of bail. The state’s legislature passed a bill to eliminate bail, which was followed promptly by a court challenge. 

The state Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that the law was constitutional, stating that Illinois’ constitution “does not mandate that monetary bail is the only means to ensure criminal defendants appear for trials or the only means to protect the public.”

The law will officially come into force on Sept. 18, 2023.

Furthermore, New York has passed a number of revisions to its sweeping bail reform bill, signed into law by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). Opponents of the law stated that the bail reform efforts led to a sharp increase in crime in the Empire State.

Current New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed a recent revision to the bail reform measure, allowing judges to hold criminal suspects under certain conditions.

The governor said that the changes allow for courts to have “more autonomy in deciding the conditions and the kinds of real control that is necessary to return someone to court.” 

She said that prior to the change, this was “not happening.”