Editor,

Proposition 25, opposed by the NAACP and Black Lives Matter, together with judges and prosecutors, eliminates constitutional right to posting bail and forces California’s 58 counties to utilize an expensive algorithm sold by one of its sponsors, Texas multimillionaire John Arnold. Relying on historical arrest data to predict defendant’s criminal behavior, dubbed “risk assessment,” it’s contradicted by academic studies and even the ACLU, because such historical arrest data is itself racially-biased and predicting defendant’s pretrial conduct using such data perpetuates the same bias. 

Proposition 25 introduces a concept which enables detention based upon what defendant might do, not based upon what defendant has done. Since 1791, the U.S. Constitution has provided: “Excessive bail shall not be required.” In 1982, California voters approved California Constitution Article I Section 12(c): “Excessive bail may not be required.” 

Judges order bail in open court after defendant’s attorney and the prosecutor present witnesses under oath and documentary evidence, which allows family members, friends, employers to testify for pretrial release without bail and prosecutors to present evidence that defendant won’t appear at trial or will commit violent crimes against the victim or the victim’s family, or others before trial. A judge evaluates such evidence in open court. Prop 25 represents constitutional restoration of trial court reliance upon written and oral evidence, not a flawed algorithm. 

Vote no on Proposition 25. 

Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret.) 

San Francisco

The letter writer is a retired San Mateo County Superior Court judge, a former California state senator and member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

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(1) comment

Dirk van Ulden

The Judge is correct. Algorithms do not work here. Just ask McNamara who attempted to run the war in Vietnam using mathematical formulas with disastrous results. Also, as a manager I was instructed when hiring personnel to ask about past performance in stead of a hypothetical 'what would you do". Past performance is a reliable prediction of future behavior. Just ask the folks in NYC where crime has escalated because of their no bail policy. Vote NO on this turkey!

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