Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Commercial Bail Reduces Jail Populations

Did you know that commercial bail actually lowers jail populations and saves taxpayers money?  Not only does commercial bail save critical tax dollars but bail agents are also physically responsible for defendants released on bail - if a defendant misses court the bail agent is the one who is responsible for getting them back to court and not the taxpayer!

Defendants released from jail on other unsecured release methods (instead of financially secured release through a bail agent) have higher recidivism and failure to appear rates, thus increasing the jail population.  As jail populations increase, so does the use of tax dollars to fund its operations.

Taxpayer-funded pretrial services programs want the public to believe that jail populations increase solely because a defendant is too poor to pay for a bail bond.  Really?  Reality is that most people can come up with a 10 percent premium to bond out of jail within two days.  But when someone is told you can get out of jail for "free" or pay a bail agent, what would you do?  And by the way, that release isn't really free because you and I as taxpayers are paying for that release.   

Let's look at commercial bail more simply: a bail bond is an insurance product; a contract between the court, the defendant and a surety.  The one-time, non-refundable fee a defendant pays to a bail agent is the cost of assuming the risk of appearance for that defendant.  That premium must cover all expenses associated with the release of the defendant including insurance costs and fugitive recovery fees if necessary - and it is good for the life of the bond.

Taxpayer-funded pretrial services programs have no such responsibility.  Instead when a defendant fails to appear on taxpayer-funded release, the job for finding them falls to an already overburdened law enforcement agency.

Commercial bail works for a reason - and that reason is effectiveness and accountability.  Government can always attempt to take over a private enterprise but some things are better left alone.  Let your voices be heard.

Public policy affects public safety.

1 comment:

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