By Associated Press - Wednesday, March 11, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A proposal to limit the use of cash bail for people arrested in Utah passed the Legislature Wednesday after supporters argued the current system can mean people who are presumed innocent stay stuck behind bars only because they don’t have money for bail.

The plan to create a presumption of release for low-risk suspects passed the its final hurdle in the Utah Senate and now heads to Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.

The bill had support from prosecutors, sheriffs, defense attorneys and the courts. But it was opposed by the bail bond industry and some lawmakers who have said the existing system is too lenient.

The American Bail Coalition has argued making it easier for suspects to be released could increase crime.

Supporters, though, said letting people out of jail pretrial could make new crimes less likely by increasing the chances they can keep their jobs and housing.

The bill from Democratic Rep. Stephanie Pitcher would create pretrial services programs that could impose requirements like drug testing and check-ins aimed at ensuring suspects show up in court and don’t commit new crimes if they are released after arrest.

People suspected of more serious of violent crimes would be more likely to be held in jail before trial.

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