Friday, March 19, 2010

The Importance of Bail vs. Taxpayer-Funded Pretrial Release

Why is bail important in the criminal justice system?

Bail, provided by a licensed surety agent, is an insurance contract that guarantees the appearance of a defendant in court. An estimated 30 percent of defendants released on taxpayer-funded pretrial release remain at large after one year from failing to appear for court. The percentage for bail? 19 percent! Private surety bail has the lowest failure to appear and fugitive rates.

Bail is guaranteed by the 8th and 14th admendments in the United States Constitution: many defendnant's don't have the full amount of the bond to post in order to be released from jail so they borrow usually 10 perent of the face value of the bond from a bail agent to get out of jail, much like you pay for any other insurance policy. The bail agent then accepts financial and physical responsibility for that defendant.

Bail relieves jail overcrowding: by facilitating the release of defendants who can afford to pay a bond, private surety bail helps take away the burden of jail overcrowding and paves the way for a taxpayer-funded pretrial release program to focus on indigent defendants charged with non-violent crimes to be released. After all, these are the very people who need help the most - not those who can pay for their own way out of jail.

Bail is privately-funded and costs the taxpayer nothing: your critical tax dollars can then be use for other important services and programs.

Bail agents are accountable financially and physcially for defendants: bail agents are financially responsible for defendants they release on bail. If a defendant fails to appear for court the bail agent must either produce the defendant or pay the full amount of the bond to the court.

Bail agents pay all costs of extradition for defendants who fail to appear and are re-arrested: under a pretrial release program more of your tax dollars are used to try and apprehend criminals who fail to appear.

Bail agents invest and instill financial incentives by integrating family and friends as guarantors of the bond. Defendants are held accountable through their contract with the bail agent.

Bail reduces county costs.

Bail agents and the insurance company they represent are accountable to the court.

Promoting public safety . . . reinforcing accountability!

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