As early as 1912 – over one hundred years ago – critics were concerned that poor people remained in jail while awaiting trial solely because of their inability to pay even small bail amounts, that bail bondsmen had become too prominent in the administration of justice and that corruption plagued the industry. The Justice Policy Institute (JPI) feels that the bail bonding industry stands in the way of fair and effective pre-trial justice with much backed up evidence.
“There are approximately 15,000 bail bond agents working in the United States, writing bonds for about $14 billion annually. Bail bond companies take billions from low-income people, with no return on investment in terms of public safety and added costs to communities, according to JPI’s findings. Backed by multibillion dollar insurance giants, the for-profit bail bonding industry maintains its hold in the pretrial system through political influence.” (Hughes & Masozi).
“For-profit bail bonding harms individuals, families and the integrity of our pretrial justice system,” said Spike Bradford author of For Better or For Profit and senior research associate for JPI. "The industry's political influence also perpetuates the use of money bail instead of other alternatives that allow people deemed low risk of re-offending or failing to appear in court to remain free until their trial. The practice of for-profit bail bonding should be eliminated.”
Bail bondsmen only look at the likelihood of your not showing up for your court date, which is the only time their money is at risk. And given how the system is set up to minimize the instances when bail bondsmen must pay forfeitures – and that they’ll come after the person who paid for the bond for the full bail amount anyway – this risk is low. While most places in the U.S. still use money as a primary release mechanism, and allow for-profit companies to post bond for people, some states and communities are...