California voters must approve law to end bail before trial

The nation's first law eliminating bail for suspects awaiting trial is on hold until California voters decide whether to overturn it.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement a referendum that qualified for the 2020 state ballot would overturn the law signed last year by then-Gov. Jerry Brown. The law would replace bail with a risk-assessment system — although it's still unclear how the system will work.

The law was scheduled to go into effect in October. Now it must be approved by a majority of voters before it can take effect.

The rules would give the state's judicial council broad authority to reshape pretrial detention policies. Based on the council's framework, each county's superior court will set its own procedures for deciding who to release before trial, potentially creating a patchwork system based on where a suspect lives.

Most suspects accused of nonviolent felonies will be released within 12 hours of booking, while those charged with serious, violent felonies will stay in jail before trial.

Dawn Kamber