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Colusa woman too poor to be jailed

Shonna Lynn Macias

After the California Supreme Court decided on March 25 that the state’s cash bail system was unconstitutional because it unfairly incarcerated poor people, Colusa County Superior Court was put through its first test.

A Colusa woman charged with a serious violent felony was released from the Colusa County Jail on her own recognizance last week because she claimed she couldn’t pay…anything.

Colusa police officers arrested Shonna Lynn Macias, 43, on April 6, after she allegedly assaulted and threatened to kill a person confined to a wheelchair. Her bail was initially set at $185,000, an amount that would likely ensure she would return to court if she was let out of jail before trial.

Colusa Police Lt. Sara Martin said Macias was arrested after officers responded to the report of the physical altercation in a residence in the 1100 block of Jay Street.

Martin said when officers arrived they found the victim, who had minor injuries, although Marcia had reportedly fled the scene.

The altercation occurred around 1 PM.

Macias was taken into custody when she returned to the residence about 30 minutes later, Martin said. There was also an indication that Macias had damaged several items in the home, according to the report.

After her arrest, Macias, who was previously arrested in Lake County for battery, spent less than 48 hours in jail pending arraignment on charges alleging making criminal threats, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, and elder abuse.

The California Supreme Court decision on the state’s bail system centered around the case of retired shipyard worker Kenneth Humphrey, who remained in jail pending trial on a theft charge because he couldn’t afford bail.

California voters in November voted against abolishing the cash bail system as a way to ensure people are held accountable for criminal behavior – either by remaining in jail pending court proceedings or by having enough financial incentive to return to court when released.

While the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to reasonable bail pursuant to the 8th Amendment, Martin said the release of potentially violent criminals simply because they are poor

“While I am understanding that there are those with financial limitations that limit one’s access to resources such as bail, it is troubling that someone who committed a violent crime, such as in this case, can be released from jail during the duration of court proceedings, at minimum with no financial recourse,” Martin said. “It poses not only a threat to the safety of the community but more so to the victims. This recent decision greatly restricts the discretion of our local judicial system, including our judges.”

Colusa Police officers previously arrested Macias at the Colusa Motel on Jan. 5 for trespassing and refusing to leave premises, although the District Attorney’s office did not press charges.

At the time, Macias claimed she was unemployed and had no permanent address.

Macias, who is represented by Public Defender Albert Smith, is scheduled to appear in Colusa County Superior Court to enter a plea on April 19.

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