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Police Chief Rejoices Over Court Call to Limit $0 Bail



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Amid a rash of violence in Fresno, Police Chief Andy Hall praised a recent decision from the Fresno courts to limit the availability of $0 bail for more criminal suspects.

The lead judges for Fresno County approved additional exemptions on Oct. 13 to the emergency bail rule — a state policy instituted to reduce jails populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hall has previously criticized the rule as one of the reasons violent crime has spiked in Fresno.

“Holding people accountable for their actions is a critical component of our criminal justice system,” Hall said in a news release Tuesday. “This decision by the Executive Committee of the Fresno County Superior Court is a step in the right direction. Our community has suffered enough and it’s time these violent offenders are removed from our streets.”

Six More Exemptions Made

In June, the executive committee listed 21 exemptions to the $0 bail rule. Last week, six more were added:

Penal Code 30605: position of an assault weapon.

— Penal Code 32625: possession of a machine gun

—  Penal Code 29805: prohibition on recently released felon from possessing a firearm.

Penal Code 25400: Carrying a concealed weapon.

— Penal Code 25850: Carrying a loaded weapon in public.

— Health and Safety Code 11370.1: Possession of a firearm with drugs.

The committee also raised bail amounts for previously exempted crimes including felony evading arrest and four types of gang enhancements.

District Attorney Approves Court Action

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp approved the court’s action.

“Eliminating more crimes from $0 bail and increasing bail amounts for gun and gang crimes is an important public safety measure intended to protect our community by keeping dangerous offenders behind bars pending trial,” Smittcamp said in a news release.

“This is merely one step being undertaken to end the rampant gun fire, gang activity and senseless bloodshed in our community. Although the revisions occurred just last week, their positive impacts can already be seen as perpetrators arrested for these types of crimes are being held in custody, rather than returned to the streets within hours of their arrest.”

ACLU: Exemptions “Discriminatory”

Some civil rights groups say the bail exemptions would create more racial discrepancies, according to Yoel Haile, Criminal Justice Program Manager at ACLU NorCal.

“Imprisoning people before their trial simply because they can’t afford bail was always unjust and arbitrary, but with the pandemic, it has now become potentially life threatening. Jails and prisons are COVID hotspots that can easily spread to the full community,” Haile said. “We also know that many of the charges that the Fresno DA wants exempted are applied in racially discriminatory ways, meaning that this new bail schedule will most harm Black and brown community members.”

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email