AB 42 (Bonta) would declare the intent of the Legislature to reform bail processes so as to safely reduce the number of people held in pretrial detention, while also addressing racial and economic disparities in the bail system and making sure that no one is detained only for inability to pay bail.
AAP Positional Letter
January 11, 2017
The Honorable Rob Bonta
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249
Fax: (916) 319-2118
RE: AB 42 (Bonta): Bond Reform
AAP-CA Position: Support
Dear Assemblymember Bonta:
The American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAP-CA), representing over 5,000 California pediatricians, strongly supports your proposed legislation AB 42 (Bonta). AB 42 would declare the intent of the Legislature to safely reduce the number of people held in pretrial detention, with special attention to racial and economic disparities created by the current bail system.
As pediatricians know first-hand, “toxic stress” is immensely damaging to children’s emotional and physical health. Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child defines toxic stress as the “[p]rolonged activation of stress response systems in the absence of protective relationships,” such as a parent-child relationship. The incarceration of a loved one thus poses long-term negative health consequences for children. Jail detention before trial can also cause loss of employment, housing, or medical coverage, endangering children’s well-being.
Studies show that pretrial detention most heavily impacts children of color. African-American and Hispanic defendants are more likely to be detained pending trial, less likely to make bail (which is assessed at higher amounts), and less likely to be granted release than similarly situated white defendants. In 2013, the Vera Institute found race and ethnicity to be predictive factors in determining whether defendants were released at arraignment: for misdemeanors, African Americans were 20 percent more likely than whites to be detained.
It is essential that pretrial detention—in which the detained has not been proven guilty of a crime—only be used when the harm caused by the detention is outweighed by the risk that the detainee will flee or cause harm. Yet it is all too common that those accused of a crime remain behind bars simply because they cannot afford bail.
AB 42 (Bonta) would mark a bold first step in reforming the bail system to minimize unjust detentions and their unfair impact on children. Pediatricians across the state proudly support AB 42 (Bonta). We thank you for your leadership on behalf of the health and well-being of children, youth, and families in California.
Chief Executive Officer
American Academy of Pediatrics, California
CC: AAP-CA Leadership; Lydia Bourne