Over the last several days, there have been many questions about Zero Bail and the release of individuals from custody. In the interest of informing the public about these policies, the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office is providing the following information.
In April 2020, the California Judicial Council adopted an emergency zero bail schedule in response to Covid-19. This emergency bail schedule authorized zero bail for all misdemeanor crimes as well as a multitude of felony crimes. Zero bail means that the individual is released without posting any bail and is released on his/her own recognizance (OR) without any supervision or conditions of release. The Judicial Council rescinded this order in June 2020 but urged local courts to continue these emergency measures.
In June 2020, the Sacramento Superior Court adopted its own zero bail schedule, following the recommendations of the Judicial Council. This zero bail schedule allowed for zero bail on all misdemeanors and many felonies, including certain gun crimes.
The Sacramento District Attorney’s Office has been attempting to track those individuals who have been arrested and released on zero bail/OR from the Sacramento County jail. Based on data from both the Sheriff’s Department and the Sacramento Superior Court, it is estimated that 5,100 individuals have been released on zero bail/OR from March 18, 2020, through September 1, 2021. Of those released, over 1,700 individuals have been re-arrested after release. Some have been re-arrested and released multiple times, including individuals re-arrested and released over 10 times. The total number of re-arrests is over 4,400.
The Sacramento District Attorney’s Office has received complaints from various groups, including numerous business partnership organizations, about chronic low-level offenders committing a variety of crimes, including drugs, vandalism, trespassing and fires on their properties. These individuals have been arrested, re-arrested and released on multiple occasions. These crimes impact public safety, affect the quality of life of our citizens and often present significant impediments to those conducting business in our community.
Additionally, there are several cases where individuals have been released on zero bail and have been re-arrested for serious and violent crimes. The following are examples of these types of cases:
27 individuals have been convicted of felony domestic violence (a “nonviolent” crime under the penal code) after having been released on zero bail.
In May 2020, Kayshaun Slaton was arrested for several felonies, including a high-speed pursuit and possession of a fully automatic ghost gun. These crimes involve allegations that Slaton was involved in a high-speed pursuit, crashed the car he was driving and then fled on foot. Located in the car was a fully automatic .40 caliber ghost gun with a 30-round magazine. Under the zero bail schedule, Slaton qualified for zero bail release at booking. While on zero bail, Slaton is accused of committing murder on the afternoon of December 14, 2020, wherein he shot the victim with another fully automatic .40 caliber handgun with an extended magazine, firing off 23 rounds in less than two seconds.
In May 2020, Ajan Vaughn was convicted of felony evading and possession of a loaded firearm. He was released on felony probation in June 2020. On December 29, 2020, he was arrested during a probation search for being a felon in possession of ammunition. He was released on zero bail/OR on December 30, 2020, due to the emergency bail schedule. On March 21, 2021, Vaughn is alleged to have encountered a rival in another parked car, walked up to him and shot 8 rounds into the car, killing the victim.
In July 2020, Ezell Thomas was arrested for possession of a loaded 9mm handgun with a 40-round high-capacity magazine in a car. Thomas was released with zero bail due to the emergency bail schedule. He then failed to appear in September 2020 and a warrant was issued for his arrest. On May 11, 2021, Thomas was arrested after his 4-year-old child found Thomas’ unsecured gun on a bed and accidentally shot himself in the arm. Thomas has been convicted and sentenced to prison for both the original loaded firearm in the vehicle and felony child cruelty cases.
In May 2021, after concerns were raised by the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office, the Sacramento Superior Court amended its emergency bail schedule to address chronic nuisance offenders and certain gun offenses.