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The Courage California Voter Guide compiles the information that allows you to make informed decisions about the races on your ballot, based on your values. Vote in every race on your ballot! It's our right and our responsibility. Please share this guide with your friends and family.

Voting has changed in Calavaras County this year. The Voter’s Choice Act was enacted in the county to make voting more convenient. Changes include an expanded period of in-person early voting, every registered voter in the county will receive a vote-by-mail ballot, and every registered voter in the county is able to vote in-person at any Vote Center in their county. Have questions about the changes to voting in Calavaras County? Visit your county elections website.

State Assembly, 5th District

Member of the State Assembly

No Recommendation

Based on our analysis, there is no progressive candidate to recommend for your vote in this race.

About the Position

State Assembly Members form part of the California State Legislature, and work alongside the governor to establish laws and a state budget. They hold the power to pass bills that affect public policy, set state spending levels, raise and lower taxes, and uphold or override the governor’s vetoes. The California State Assembly has 80 districts. Each represents a population of at least 465,000 Californians. Representatives are elected to the Assembly for a four-year term. Every two years, all 80 seats are subject to election. Members elected before 2012 are restricted to three two-year terms (six years) in the Assembly. Those elected in or after 2012 are allowed to serve 12 years total across both the State Senate and Assembly. This term, Democrats currently hold a two-thirds supermajority of 61 seats in the California State Assembly, while Republicans hold 17 seats. One seat is held by an Independent, and one seat is currently vacant.  

About the District

California's 5th Assembly District includes Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Madera, Mariposa, Mono, and Tuolumne Counties and portions of El Dorado and Placer Counties. Republicans typically hold this district. The most recent election results show 54.8 percent of AD-38 voted for Donald Trump for president in 2016, and 60.2 percent voted for John Cox for governor in 2018.

About the Race

Republican incumbent Assemblymember Frank Bigelow has held this office since 2012 and is running unopposed this election. He has not signed a pledge to refuse corporate PAC, fossil fuel, or police money. Assemblymember Bigelow’s campaign is funded by several problematic backers. From corporate PACs, he has received over $28,200 from Fresnius, DaVita, and Juul Labs, Inc. From fossil fuels, he has received $28,000 from Edison, Sempra Energy, BP North America, Chevron, Western Propane Gas Association, and Phillips 66 Company. From police, he has received $20,500 from CSLEA Pac, California Association of Highway Patrolmen, National Peace Officers and Firefighters Benefit Association, PORAC Pac, CCPOA Pac, and Fresno Police Officers Association PAC.

About the Incumbent

Assemblymember Bigelow has served AD-05 since being elected in 2012. He is endorsed by the National Rifle Association, California Republican Party, and the National Federation of Independent Business. Assemblymember Bigelow is running on a platform of lowering taxes, increasing access to health care, and implementing better forestry and water management. Based on Assemblymember Bigelow’s track record of earning a Lifetime Courage Score of 0, he is unlikely to provide progressive leadership in office.

We encourage you to write in a candidate of your choice to show support for progressives in this district. Keep reading for progressive recommendations in other key races and on ballot measures where your vote can make a critical difference.

 


Statewide Ballot Measures

Proposition #15

VOTE YES
Vote YES on Prop 15

Vote YES on Prop 15 to provide between $6.4 billion to $11.5 billion in additional funding to local schools and governments. 

Proposition 15 asks California voters to raise an estimated $6.4 billion to $11.5 billion in funding for local schools and governments by increasing property taxes on commercial and industrial properties based on current market value instead of the price they were purchased for. Based on the most recent report by Blue Sky Consulting Group, 10% of the biggest corporate property owners will pay 92% of the funding and more than 75% of total revenues will come from properties that have not been reassessed since prior to 1990 -- just 2% of all commercial and industrial properties! Proposition 15 will maintain the existing commercial and industrial property tax at a 1% limit and will also maintain existing exemptions for small businesses, homeowners, agricultural lands, and renters.

Why voting YES on Prop 15 matters:

  • California public schools continue to be underfunded and communities of color continue to be impacted the most. Prop 15 is a way to invest in our communities without having to raise taxes on small businesses, renters, and homeowners. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, California needs this funding from corporations who have not been paying their fair share of taxes.
  • California ranked 41st (with adjusted cost of living) out of all states and Washington, D.C. in spending per K-12 student (California Budget & Policy Center). 
  • California is ranked 51st in three categories: number of K-12 students per teacher, number of K-12 students per guidance counselor, and number of K-12 students per librarian (National Education Association / National Center for Education Statistics).

Misinformation about Prop 15 includes:

  • "It hurts small businesses" -- FALSE. Prop 15 maintains all existing exemptions for small businesses, homeowners, renters, and agricultural land.
  • "It taxes working families" -- FALSE. Prop 15 will predominantly affect corporations who have not been paying their fair share of taxes.
  • "It is a step towards repealing Prop 13" -- FALSE. - Prop 15 actively maintains the exemptions Prop 13 secured.
  • "Small business operations from home aren’t protected under Prop 15" -- FALSE. Prop 15’s exemptions for businesses and homeowners apply to small business operations at home. 

Primary Funders of Prop 15 include:

Prop 15’s main opponents include realty and industrial property owners, while there is overwhelming financial support from the California Teachers Association and SEIU California State Council.

Top Funders

Last updated: 2020-09-10

Proposition #16

VOTE YES
Vote YES on Prop 16

Vote YES on Prop 16 to repeal 1996’s Prop 209 and reinstate affirmative action in the state.

Proposition 16 asks California voters to amend the Constitution of California to repeal Prop 209’s restrictions on local and state governments from considering race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, education, and contracting. If passed, Prop 16 will permit governments to consider those protected categories in order to promote inclusive hiring and admissions programs in California’s public universities, government, and public agencies.

Why voting YES on Prop 16 matters:

  • It is time that California follows the other 42 states that have taken gender, race, ethnicity, and national origin into account for college admissions and hiring in government and public agencies.
  • Prop 209’s affirmative action ban resulted in an over $820 million loss every year in Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Program (MWBE) contracts with the state of California.
  • Reports conclude that the percentage of contracts granted to MWBEs never returned to pre-Prop 209 levels. Restoring affirmative action is the next step in building a more equitable and diverse future for California.
  • The University of California’s analysis of Prop 209 revealed that affirmative action had increased the population of underrepresented students by at least 12 percent, with the largest effects seen at UCLA and Berkeley.

Misinformation about Prop 16 includes:

  • "Gains for women of color in workforce diversity have already been addressed." -- FALSE. Women of color continue to face systemic racism in the wage gap and earn an estimated $946,120 less than white men over a 40-year career.
  • "Black civil workers are overrepresented." -- FALSE. According to the 2018 Civil Service Census of California employees, Black Californians made up 5.5 percent of the total population and 9.8 percent of the total civil-service workforce, compared to white Californians, who made up 37 percent of the total population but 43.5 percent of the total civil-service workforce.
  • "Colleges and universities would be able to use racial quotas." -- FALSE. Racial quotas for university admissions have been outlawed as unconstitutional since Regents of the University of California v. Bakke in 1978.

Top Funders of Prop 16 include:

  • Opposition to Prop 16 is sponsored by Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., which contributed to the Californians for Equal Rights committee.
  • Support for Prop 16 is largely financed by philanthropists M. Quinn Delaney and Patty Quillin, California Nurses Association Initiative PAC, California Works (a project of California Labor Federation AFL-CIO), and Elizabeth Cabraser.
Last updated: 2020-09-26

Proposition #17

VOTE YES
Vote YES on Prop 17

Vote YES on Prop 17 to restore voting rights to Californians on parole. 

Proposition 17 asks California voters to amend the Constitution of California to restore voting rights to persons who have been disqualified from voting while on parole. If passed, Prop 17 will restore voting rights to approximately 50,000 Californians currently on parole.

Why voting YES on Prop 17 matters:

  • California is one of the 31 states that do not automatically restore voting rights upon completion of a person’s sentence. In Maine and Vermont, there are no laws that disenfranchise and discriminate against people with criminal convictions even when they’re still serving out their sentences.
  • Parolees who are reintegrating into society resume other civic responsibilities, such as paying taxes and jury duty. Being barred from voting while paying taxes is taxation without representation.
  • In 2017, Black Californians made up 28% of all prison populations despite only making up 6% of California’s total population. With an astonishing and horrifying incarceration rate at 8 times the rate of white Californians, it is clear that the disenfranchisement of parolees is the disenfranchisement of Black voters.

Misinformation about Prop 17 includes:

  • "Voting is a privilege" -- FALSE. Voting is a right, not privilege. Projecting voting as a privilege and not a right inherently undermines our democracy. 
  • "Individuals who have not completed their parole period have not completed their sentence" -- FALSE. As soon as a person completes their sentence in prison, they are released into their parole period in order to reintegrate into society. The sentence in prison and parole period are two separate phases.

Top Funders of Prop 17 include:

There are no contributions recorded for support or opposition to Prop 17.

Last updated: 2020-08-28

Proposition #18

VOTE YES
Vote YES on Prop 18

Vote YES on Prop 18 to allow 17-year-olds to vote in the primary election if they will turn 18 by the following general election.

Proposition 18 asks California voters to amend the Constitution of California to allow 17-year-olds to vote in the primary election if they will turn 18 by the following general election. At the age of 18, Californians are technically given the right to vote in all elections. A subset are currently prohibited from voting at 18 if they are 17 during the primary election. Prop 18 amends the constitutional loophole that prevents all 18-year-olds from being able to vote in general elections.

Why voting YES on Prop 18 matters:

  • Nineteen other states, including D.C., allow 17-year-olds to vote in the primary election if they will be 18 by the general election.
  • Research has proven time and again that voting is habit-forming. These states recognize the importance of allowing 18-year-olds to vote, to help form their voting habits and amplify their voices.

Top Funders of Prop 18 include:

There are no recorded contributions in support of or opposition to Prop 18.

Misinformation about Prop 18 includes:

There is no prominent misinformation about Prop 18.

Last updated: 2020-08-28

Proposition #19

VOTE NO
Vote NO on Prop 19

Vote NO on Proposition 19 to maintain property tax savings for all and avoid increasing housing inequity.

Proposition 19 asks voters to amend sections of 1978’s Proposition 13 to increase the number of times a property tax base can be transferred to three times for longtime homeowners. Prop 19 is almost exactly the same as Proposition 5, which was on the 2018 California ballot and overwhelmingly defeated by voters, with 60 percent having voted against the proposition. The main difference in the proposition this year is that Prop 19 includes an additional amendment to Prop 13 that narrows an existing inheritance property tax break and promises to distribute any revenue generated from that amendment toward fire protection agencies and schools.

Why voting NO on Prop 19 matters
  • Proposition 19 widens the generational wealth gap by giving homeowners older than 55 and other qualified groups a way to keep property tax breaks they receive for having bought their homes decades ago if they move anywhere else in the state, up to three times. They can also keep that break if they move to a more expensive property.
  • Proposition 13 caps most property tax rates at 1 percent of a home’s sale price and holds annual increases in assessed value to 2 percent or less. This means people who purchased their home a few decades ago already pay significantly less property tax than newer homeowners. Prop 19 further builds the wealth of longtime homeowners and denies wealth-building opportunities to people who don’t own a home or who may be struggling to buy one.
  • While Prop 19 does eliminate a $1 million property tax exemption for parent-to-child transfers and could potentially generate state revenue that would be distributed to fire protection agencies and schools, this amendment is being paired with the primary tax break for longtime homeowners to make it more appealing.
Top Funders of Prop 19

Realtor associations have contributed $36,270,000 in support of Prop 19. There is no registered financial opposition.

Misinformation

There is no prominent misinformation about Proposition 19.

 

Last updated: 2020-09-26

Proposition #20

VOTE NO
Vote NO on Prop 20

Vote NO on Prop 20 to protect criminal justice reforms and constitutional rights to privacy.

If passed, Prop 20 increases penalties for low-level offenses and would create a state database that collects DNA samples from persons convicted of specified misdemeanors for use in cold cases by repealing parts of Props 47 and 57. Prop 20 would expand the list of offenses that disqualify inmates from a parole program, consider an individual’s collective criminal history and not just their most recent offense, and impose stronger restrictions for a nonviolent offender’s parole program. Additionally, Prop 20 would reclassify theft between $250 and $950 as a felony.

Why voting NO on Prop 20 matters:

  • Prop 20 is a dangerous proposition put forth by Courage Score Hall of Shame Assemblymember Jim Cooper, and it is sponsored by Courage Score Hall of Shame Assemblymember Vince Fong. Time and again, Assemblymembers Cooper and Fong vote to protect police brutality and discriminatory criminal justice policies. Both voted no on AB 1600, which would expedite access to police misconduct records for a trial.
  • Association for L.A. Deputy Sheriffs, L.A. Police Protective League, and the Peace Officers Research Association of California all support and have heavily financed Prop 20.
  • Prop 20 would increase recidivism by removing positive incentives from Prop 57.
  • Parole review boards would consider an individual’s entire criminal history, not just the offense they are on parole for, when deciding to release a person convicted of a felony on parole.

Top Funders of Prop 20:

  • Three police unions are the top funders in support of Prop 20, including the CA Correctional Peace Officers Association, the Association for LA Deputy Sheriffs, and the LA Police Protective League Issues PAC.
  • Philanthropists are the top funders of campaigns against Prop 20, including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Patty Quillin, and Stacy Schusterman.

Misinformation about Prop 20:

  • "Criminals are getting away with more violent crimes." -- FALSE. The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that Prop 47, which Prop 20 attempts to roll back, not only decreased racial disparities in bookings and arrests, but also found that violent crimes did not increase after it was passed.

 

Last updated: 2020-08-28

Proposition #21

VOTE YES
Vote YES on Prop 21

Vote YES on Prop 21 to allow cities and counties to establish and regulate rent control.

Proposition 21 asks voters to amend state law in order to allow (not require) local governments at the city and county levels to establish and regulate rent control on residential properties. This proposition would affect residential properties over 15 years old and exempts individuals who own up to two residential properties. Additionally, Prop 21 would allow rent in rent-controlled properties to increase up to 15 percent over a period of three years with the start of a new tenancy. Prop 21 is more or less the same proposition voters rejected in 2018.

Why voting YES on Prop 21 matters:

California has the highest rate of homelessness in the nation, which can be attributed to the overwhelmingly high median rates for rent throughout the state forcing residents to pay 50 percent of their income just toward rent.
The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act prohibits rent control on residential properties built after February 1, 1995. Since then, housing built in California has become accessible only to those who can afford uncontrolled rent increases, and low-income families have largely been shut out from newer housing developments.
According to a Stanford study, those who lived in rent-controlled properties when Costa-Hawkins passed ended up saving a cumulative total of $7 billion over 18 years, which confirms that rent control is an effective way to prevent displacement from the city.

Misinformation about Prop 21 includes:

  • "Makes the housing crisis worse." -- FALSE. With one in three Californians paying 50 percent of their income just for rent, Prop 21 offers local governments the opportunity to prevent displacement, and as a result, prevent homelessness. A person who experiences homelessness will cost taxpayers an average of $35,578, and chronic homelessness generally costs around $100,000.
  • "Removes a landlord’s right to profit." -- FALSE. Prop 21 actually guarantees a landlord’s right to profit.
  • "California just passed AB 1482, which went into effect in January of this year, so California doesn’t need any more rent laws." -- FALSE AB 1482 only affects residential properties built after 2005, and according to Zillow’s analysis, only 7 percent of renters would have benefited from AB 1482’s rent cap in 2018.

Top Funders of Prop 21 include:

  • Three of the top 10 property owners in Silicon Valley (Prometheus Real Estate Group, Inc., Essex Property Trust, and Equity Residential) have contributed over $10 million in opposition to Prop 21.
  • The leading funder in support of Prop 21 is the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and its housing advocacy division Housing Is A Human Right is a leading sponsor of the Rental Affordability Act.
Last updated: 2020-08-28

Proposition #22

VOTE NO
Vote NO on Prop 22

Vote NO on Prop 22 to protect labor rights and classify app-based drivers as employees, not contractors.

Proposition 22 asks voters to classify ride-share and delivery companies as independent contractors, not employees. Additionally, Prop 22 would restrict local regulation of app-based drivers and would criminalize the impersonation of drivers.

Why voting NO on Prop 22 matters:

  • By classifying workers as contractors and not employees, companies like Lyft, Uber, and DoorDash are not required by state employment laws to enforce minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation.
  • Ride-share and delivery workers are entitled to labor rights that every other employee in California is entitled to, such as the right to organize, minimum wage, and Social Security.
  • AB 5, which Prop 22 is trying to repeal, guarantees paid family leave, paid sick days, and unemployment insurance to those classified as gig employees. These labor rights are essential during a global pandemic.

Top Funders of Prop 22 include:

  • Lyft, Uber, and DoorDash are leading contributions in support of Prop 22, with over $30 million each. Both InstaCart and Postmates have contributed $10 million each, for a grand total of over $110 million.
  • Transport Workers Union of America, SEIU California State Council, Working Families Issues Committee, Service Employees International Union, and District Council of Ironworkers PIC have contributed a total of $842,850 in opposition to Prop 22.

Misinformation About Prop 22 Includes:

  • "The cost of ride-share will go up, decreasing the amount of people who will pay for rides and services and forcing companies to lay off more workers." -- FALSE. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office found that because these companies would not have to pay for standard employee benefits and protections (roughly 20 percent of total employee costs), companies can charge lower delivery fees and fares. It is projected that this will increase companies’ profits and drivers’ state income taxes.

 

Last updated: 2020-08-28

Proposition #23

VOTE YES
Vote YES on Prop 23

Vote YES on Prop 23 to require infection reporting and state approval to close or reduce services at hospitals.

Prop 23 would add sections to the California Health and Safety Code about how dialysis facilities can operate, requiring a physician to be on-site at every dialysis clinic to oversee operations, and mandating that each chronic dialysis clinic submit quarterly reports on dialysis-related infections to the California Department of Health. The on-site physician would assume a non-caregiving role, as they would not be required to be specially trained in nephrology or interact with patients at all. Additionally, Prop 23 would prohibit discrimination against patients based on their coverage or care.

Why voting YES on Prop 23 matters:

Prop 23 builds upon current federal requirements that report dialysis-related infections to the National Healthcare Safety Network at the Center for Disease Control to include reporting these infections to the California Department of Health.
Having a physician on-site at chronic dialysis clinics during all treatment hours provides a higher quality of medical care with an additional layer of patient safety.

Prop 23 protects the 80,000 Californians who require dialysis on a weekly basis by ensuring chronic dialysis clinics cannot discriminate against patients based on how they are paying for their treatments. Insurances like Medi-Cal pay less for dialysis treatments than private insurance, which is why corporations like DaVita and Fresenius are spending millions to oppose this proposition.

Top funders of Prop 23 include:
  • Opposition to Prop 23 is heavily financed by dialysis giants Davita and Fresenius, who maintain larger profit margins if Prop 23 fails.
  • Support for Prop 23 is financed by SEIU United Healthcare Workers West PAC.
Misinformation about Prop 23 includes:
  • “Prop 23 is just being used as leverage in unionizing against dialysis employers.” A spokesperson for SEIU-UHW West, Sean Wherley, said that health-care workers in dialysis clinics “want these [initiative] reforms regardless of what happens with their union efforts.”

 

Last updated: 2020-09-28

Proposition #24

VOTE NO
Vote NO on Prop 24

Vote NO on Prop 24 to protect consumers’ personal information.

Proposition 24 asks voters to amend the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) to include pay-for-privacy schemes, which provide better services and internet connection to those who pay more in order to protect their personal information while providing suboptimal services for Californians who cannot or do not want to pay more. Additionally, Prop 24 caters to tech companies by allowing them to upload a California resident’s personal information as soon as that resident’s device, computer, or phone leaves the state’s borders, and permits tech companies to completely ignore a programmable universal electronic “do not sell my information” signal. Under current law, privacy follows a Californian wherever they go, and businesses must honor the electronic signal.

Why voting NO on Prop 24 matters:

  • Prop 24 erodes a consumer’s request to delete their data and would completely end CCPA protection of biometric information.
  • California should maintain net neutrality so people do not have to pay for companies to safeguard their personal information.
  • Prop 24 would disproportionately affect working people and families of color.
  • The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that Prop 24 will cost $10 million annually to create a new state agency that oversees and enforces the more stringent consumer privacy laws with an unknown impact on state and local tax revenues.

Misinformation about Prop 24:

  • "It will better safeguard consumers’ information." -- FALSE. Prop 24 will only do this for the consumers who are financially able to pay for better protections. Additionally, Prop 24 will end CCPA protection of biometric information.

Top Funders of Prop 24:

  • Alastair Mactaggart, a real estate developer from San Francisco, donated the majority of the total funds for the support campaign entirely by himself, with a total of $4,892,400.
  • There are no contributions to an opposition campaign.
Last updated: 2020-08-28

Proposition #25

VOTE YES
Vote YES on Prop 25

Vote YES on Prop 25 to eliminate the use of cash bail in pretrial incarceration.

Proposition 25 is a referendum, which asks voters to directly weigh in on whether to keep or reject SB 10, a bill originally passed in 2018. Voting YES on Prop 25 will keep SB 10 in place and eliminate the cash bail system of pretrial incarceration in California, which is directly responsible for the disproportionate incarceration of Californians who cannot afford bail. The bail bond industry is directly responsible for placing Prop 25 on the ballot and calling SB 10 into question.

Why voting YES on Prop 25 Matters
  • The cash bail system directly ties an individual’s wealth and ability to pay to the question of whether they pose a risk to the community and their conditions of pretrial release. This system is unfair from every angle and perpetuates the cycle of poverty and incarceration existing in many low-income communities, which are also disproportionately Black and brown communities.
  • The bail bond industry uses its influence to lobby for legislation favorable to them, which perpetuates but also escalates the cycle of poverty and incarceration. Passing Prop 25 will permanently end their influence in the political process.
  • If Prop 25 does not pass, voters will be perceived as having rejected SB 10’s reforms, in particular the effort to end the cash bail system. This will be framed as a significant precedent for opponents of criminal-justice reform to use in lobbying and legal arguments to keep the system intact in the future.
  • If Prop 25 passes, community groups will have the opportunity to advance further criminal-justice reforms related to this initiative.
Special Circumstances Surrounding Prop 25
  • Originally, there was unanimous support for SB 10 from most criminal-justice reform groups across the state. The process of making amendments to the legislation caused many groups to drop their support. In our research, we discovered that the legislative decision-making process around SB 10 was strongly influenced by applied political pressure, resulting in a process and an outcome with less buy-in. Despite the widely acknowledged flaws in the overall process, a strong majority of Courage California's statewide progressive partners are aligned around a yes position on Prop 25.
  • Organized opposition to Prop 25 from grassroots groups is strongest in Los Angeles County, where community leaders have been most successful in partnering with county officials to design and implement community-based alternatives to the incarceration system. In Los Angeles County, there are major concerns about how the implementation of a state-mandated pretrial incarceration program could interfere with their major strides in redressing the harms done to communities by an unfair justice system. These concerns are entirely valid, and attention will be focused on the actions of L.A. County’s Board of Supervisors to ensure that the alternatives to incarceration recommendations developed through a robust, community-driven dialogue process will continue to be implemented. The breakthroughs achieved by L.A. County’s criminal-justice reform movement have been characterized as historic and a model for other counties in California to follow, and this work must continue to move forward without delay.
Concerns About Prop 25

There are three major components to grassroots groups' objections to Prop 25. Here we provide our assessment of these concerns and how they can be addressed in the future if Prop 25 passes.  

  • Algorithm-based risk-assessment tools will be used as the core component of the new pretrial incarceration system in all California counties. There are concerns about how inherent biases in the system could influence the implementation of these tools. There are two notable countermeasures in place to address these concerns, and both are overseen by the Judicial Council, the policymaking body of the California court system.
    • First, counties must validate the chosen risk-assessment tool for the communities in which it will be used. This is not a standardized approach to validation; the tool must be proven to provide a higher level of responsiveness and sensitivity to community conditions before it is implemented. The Judicial Council will have to certify each county's tool, and the tool must be revalidated for the communities it serves every three years.
    • Second, counties are now required by law to track and publicly report how a defendant’s circumstances and background correspond to the decision a judge makes about their pretrial release conditions. This data has to be collected, compiled, and reported annually to the Judicial Council, as well as made publicly available for review. This law was passed the year after SB 10 to provide an avenue to monitor the implementation of SB 10, and is an important step in making risk-assessment tools more accountable and the overall pretrial incarceration system more transparent.
  • The new pretrial incarceration system is directly implemented by the probation departments of each county in California. Probation departments are currently responsible for investigating offenders’ backgrounds, making sentencing recommendations to the court, enforcing court orders, and supervising sentenced offenders. They also recommend and collect restitution, oversee community service, and provide oversight of criminal-diversion programs. There are strong concerns about how probation departments will approach the oversight of defendants who have not been convicted of crimes.
    • We encourage counties to 1) require probation departments to work in partnership with other agencies, including the public defender’s office and mental-health services, in implementing the risk-assessment system; 2) use their power to hold probation departments accountable for how they implement pretrial incarceration programs in communities; and 3) invest in alternatives to the overall incarceration system, such as Measure J on the ballot in Los Angeles County, which amends the county charter to require that at least 10 percent of the county’s local revenues go to community-based programs, such as affordable housing and rent assistance, job training, and mental-health and social services.
  • There are also concerns that judicial discretion is greatly expanded by SB 10. While this is technically true, there are two additional changes to the judicial role in the pretrial system that limit judicial discretion.
    • First, anyone arrested with a misdemeanor, with some exceptions, is considered to not pose a significant risk to a community and is automatically released without going in front of a judge. This greatly reduces the overall role that a judge currently plays in the pretrial incarceration system.
    • Second, while judges do have increased judicial discretion over the more serious felony cases, their decisions are now required to be publicly recorded and therefore more transparent. Under the new system, when a prosecutor exercises their option to seek detention, a judge must hold a hearing and make the findings available on record before they order the person detained pretrial. In the current cash bail system, judges can use their discretion to set cash bail at any number with no requirement to make any findings public, which effectively detains an individual with no judicial accountability. The new judicial transparency requirement is a clear improvement over the lax requirements that existed before SB 10.
Misinformation About Prop 25

The bail bond industry has invested heavily in a No on the Prop 25 campaign in an attempt to spread misinformation and save the industry.

  • “Prop 25 denies a U.S. constitutional right.” FALSE. The 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the courts from imposing excessive bail. By eliminating the cash bail system, Prop 25 simply makes this prohibition irrelevant.
  • “Prop 25 puts our public safety at risk.” FALSE. Judges will have increased judicial discretion over the more serious felony cases, which means defendants who may pose a threat to a community or specific individual will be given individual consideration. All decisions made by judges will also be required to be publicly recorded.
  • “Prop 25 deprives justice for crime victims.” FALSE. In New Jersey, where similar legislation passed eliminating the use of cash bail in 2017, a recent study concluded that defendants are continuing to show up for court cases at the same rate and that people released under the new regulations are no more likely to commit a crime while waiting for trial than those released under the previous system on money bail.
  • “Prop 25 creates additional biases against minorities and the poor.” FALSE. In New Jersey, similar legislation passed eliminating the use of cash bail has reduced racial disparities in the jail population. In California, new reporting requirements enable racial disparities to be systematically tracked for the first time. And ending cash bail immediately eliminates the most immediate factor in the criminal-justice system that drives the cycle of poverty and incarceration existing in many low-income communities, which are also disproportionately Black and brown communities.
Top Funders of Prop 25
  • The two largest donors in support of Prop 25 are Connie and Steve Ballmer. Steve Ballmer is the former CEO of Microsoft and current owner of the L.A. Clippers team. The Ballmers are philanthropists who have given over $300 million to 70 nonprofits over the last three years for gun safety and racial justice. They have also pledged $25 million in coronavirus aid. In a statement, they said that “far too many people that are not a danger are getting stuck in jail waiting for their trials simply because they can’t afford bail.”
  • The other three top donors in support of Prop 25 are SEIU California State Council; Action Now Initiative, LLC; and philanthropist Patty Quillin.
  • The top donor in opposition to Prop 25 is Triton Management Services, LLC, the parent company of Aladdin Bail Bonds.
  • The American Bail Coalition, consisting of several insurance and bail companies, is opposed to Prop 25, as it wants the bail system to remain in place to avoid going out of business.

 

Last updated: 2020-09-28