Does Bail Really Work To Promote Justice?
In the United States, there are roughly 15,000 bail bond agents, representing a $14-billion-per-annum industry. These bond agents, which provide surety — or third-party payment and responsibility — services for low flight-risk arrestees who cannot afford to pay their bail, in many cases offer the only possibility of avoiding long pretrial detentions. As the court system is increasingly taking longer and longer to discharge cases due to shrinking budgets and a rollback on available resources, the possibility of a lengthy pretrial detention only increases, inviting the risk of detainees losing jobs, missing social and familial obligations and incurring social stigma.This is complicated in part due to the fact that a higher standard for bail has been imposed extralegally. Most states have laws that inherited…
A Concerned Citizen Commented:
If the author really wants to write a legitimate story on pretrial release on bail then he should focus less on how wrong having people pay to post bail is and rather focus on the results. Every study ever done on the subject of pretrial release has shown that financially secured bail is the most effective form of releasing an individual pretrial and ensuring their appearance in court. Additionally, people are not languishing away in jail because they can’t afford a bail bond. In fact a recent study by the JFA Institute that was funded by the ACLU showed that the 70% of people who are in pretrial status in Los Angeles County Jails were not all there because they couldn’t afford a bail bond. Rather the research showed that most of them were there because their pretrial status also included a “no bail” criteria. The actual number of people eligible for bail was only 12%. It is time for proponents of public sector pretrial release to stop blaming private industry for being ineffective when the truth is quite the opposite. Financially secured bail exists and has existed not because the big bad bail bond lobby, but rather because it works.
Ask yourself this question. Why does your county government financially guarantee through a surety bond of some type, just about every other element of its operations? From employee contracts to vendor agreements to construction contracts the county requires these types of insurance products to make sure that their vendors and contractors guarantee their performance. Why do they not require the same financial guarantee in the criminal justice system? Why don’t they require the same financial guarantee when it comes to public safety? That is exactly what the commercial bail industry does. It financially guarantees to the court that the defendant will show up or the policy (or bail bond) goes into default and the full amount of the bond is due to the court. It is this financial incentive that makes bail bond agents so effective and ensuring appearance and ultimately ensuring justice. It is time the public start demanding results for our tax dollars. If public sector pretrial service programs can not prove their effectiveness like the commercial bail industry does everyday, than they should go back to what they were designed to do in the first place, which is help the indigent and those with special needs as opposed to being a get out of jail free program for people.