Leading the fight to preserve Surety Bail for bail agents in California


Patricia Wenskunas: Founder/Chair of Crime Survivors PAC


If you live in Southern California, it is really hard to not notice significant changes in the communities you live and work in.
When you drive to work, you see more homeless people wandering the streets and setting up camps in our public parks. When you read the news, you see more and more retail theft and violent crimes being committed. And when you pay attention to what your elected officials are doing, you find out that they are finding more and more ways to reclassify and decriminalize crime so they can release dangerous people into our communities. In fact, the California legislature passed a piece of legislation last year that is going to expunge the criminal records of thousands of convicted criminals. This ludicrous policy is a victory for criminals and a slap in the face nightmare for victims. And still, the media reports that things couldn’t be better, and crime is down and all of these radical soft on crime policies are working. I’m sorry, but I don’t agree.

This past week, the Los Angeles Daily News printed an article that talks about how well LA County’s new ZERO Bail policy is working. The article quotes lifetime bail reform activist David Slayton, who implemented similar soft on crime policies in Texas that failed miserably. He now has come to Los Angeles to do the same. In the article, Mr. Slayton, says that the new ZERO bail policy is working. He states that in the first three weeks of the program, 435 people were released without bail and only 2 were rebooked for committing additional crimes. In my opinion, that is a pretty bold claim to make after only 3 weeks. First, Mr. Slayton needs to realize that he doesn’t really know how many crimes were committed by these 435 people. He only knows the crimes of the two that were reported. What Mr. Slayton doesn’t share with the public is that crime reporting nationally is down substantially. Some estimate that 30% of violent crimes and 50% of retail crimes go unreported. Additionally, how in the world can 3 weeks be enough of a time period to measure a dramatic policy change like this. Especially one that involves the unaccountable release of people accused of crimes. Once again, I am sorry…I don’t agree.

Later on in the article, Mr. Slayton once again, says the program is working flawlessly and cites that about 1000 people have been released since the program’s inception and only a handful of people have been rearrested. A “handful” of people? What does that even mean? Is that an accepted research term? A handful? What are the real numbers? How many does a handful really mean? This is what these criminal justice reform activists do. They claim their programs work and then they don’t provide real data. They say things like a “handful” and expect you to just sit there and say wow. The problem here is that I have seen the real data…something Mr. Slayton has probably seen too but can’t say anything about or his narrative won’t make sense. The District Attorney for Yolo County, Jeff Reisig, has done several studies on ZERO bail since the Covid pandemic and each and every time his results have been the same, and let me tell you, they are much different then the claims being made by Mr. Slayton. According to the research…

      • Individuals released on Zero Bail were subsequently rearrested for a total of 163% more crimes than individuals released on bail.
      • Arrested individuals released on Zero Bail reoffended at an average rate that was 70% higher than arrestees who posted bail.
      • The average recidivism rate for those released on Zero Bail was 78% over 18 months, while the average recidivism rate for those released on bail was only 46%.
      • Individuals released on Zero Bail committed new felonies 90% more often than those who posted bail.
      • Individuals released on Zero Bail committed new misdemeanors 123% more often than those who posted bail.
      • Individuals released on Zero Bail were rearrested for two or more new crimes 148% more often than those released on bail.
      • Individuals released on Zero Bail committed new violent offenses 200% more often than those who posted bail.

I am no researcher, but those statistics seem very different then the narrative being pitched by Mr. Slayton and those who both supported and implemented these dangerous and irresponsible policies. This study also provides real numbers and real percentages. Not just talking points and superlatives to make you feel safe. The reality is that these policies are failing us. They are not making us safer, they are putting our communities in danger. In Illinois, they eliminated financially secured release (bail) at the beginning of the year. Just this week a sexual predator was release for FREE with no bail and was caught the next week loitering in a park looking for more victims. And this is not the only case of this happening.


Everyday these types of dangerous people are being released into our communities under the guise of fairness and equity. And every day, dishonest people like Mr. Slayton are out in the media spreading misinformation and touting the effectiveness of these policies. Meanwhile, victims and the public sit in awe and wonder why the media reports don’t align with the reality of what they see going on in their neighborhoods every day.

As a victim and a victim advocate these types of announcements sicken and scare me. It is like our own elected officials and government systems that are designed to protect us are instead putting us in danger. That being the case I urge each and everyone of us to stand up and stop this from happening. We all have a voice in what happens in our communities, and we have been silent for too long. This is unacceptable and I know I won’t stand for it anymore. So say whatever you want Mr. Slayton, but I am going to tell you…that I disagree. I disagree with your narrative. I disagree with your data. I disagree with your objective. And most of all, I disagree with you putting dangerous people back on the street with no accountability and then patting yourself on the back for making our communities more dangerous.

Well done.
Patricia Wenskunas, Crime Survivors Inc.