The Los Angeles Police Department will stiffen its bail-release policy for alleged misdemeanor offenders next year, forcing them to pay the full amount in cash or bond to ensure their appearance in court, authorities said.
The new practice, to begin at midnight Jan. 1, ends an unsuccessful six-year policy that required alleged misdemeanor offenders to pay only 10% of their bail, police Capt. William Rathburn said Friday.
"Dope users are generally held on $1,000 bail," Rathburn said at a news conference to announce the policy change. "Lots of them would post 10%--$100--and never show up for court. . . . They'd be back on the streets and not miss a trick."
The legislation that established the 10% bail opportunity for the alleged offenders was enacted in 1979 and was authored by Assemblyman Richard Robinson (D-Garden Grove). Since then, it has undergone revisions, and expired earlier this year, when the Assembly declined to extend it.
"The department's position has been in opposition," Rathburn said. "We felt we put in a lot of effort to make arrests, but with the law, jails are like revolving doors."
In a department study last August of 100 people who were arrested on misdemeanor allegations and later released after paying 10% bail, more than half failed to show up in court.
The law's intent was to allow the alleged offenders to pay bail with their own money, rather than going to a bondsman, who keeps 10% of the total bail as his fee.
Although the 10% clause is apparently finished, the alleged offenders can still gain their freedom on their own recognizance, which requires positive identification.
A large percentage of all arrestees are for misdemeanor counts, such as prostitution, drug use and small-time crime. Nearly 125,000 of the 177,962 arrests in 1984 were for misdemeanor crimes.
"The impact will be felt in jail populations," Rathburn said. "But we still have OR (release on an alleged offender's own recognizance) and it's a manageable problem."