Bail Bonds a Better Alternative than PreTrial
The Truth about Bonds and Bail in America is a biased article written for the sole benefit of convincing taxpayers to back Pretrial Service Programs in the US.
There is a particular group out there that would like to see the bonds bail industry vanish. Their reasoning is hard to understand as anyone with half a brain can make the deductions themselves that bail is a much better alternative to pretrial. This group supports the end of bail and would push for pretrial release as the sole alternative for bail at the expense of taxpayers.
Pre Trial release was a program created for the indigent in the form of free bail. There might have been a need for such a program when you consider the poverty stricken not having the means of posting monetary bail. Unfortunately, the program just like most other government or state run programs has ended up being abused and/or lost perspective of its original goal. Most indigent are not elibible for the program especially if they are homeless or have mental disabilities.
In the US you are innocent until proven guilty. When you think of it, seems like pretrial programs go against this belief. If you are innocent until proven guilty, as the US Constitution technically purports, then why on earth would one have to submit to pretrial rules before being convicted? Coniditions of release include calling in and reporting once or more times a week, possible drug testing, other conditions to adhere to are routinely imposed irrelevant to the original alleged charge. Many people given the choice would opt for bail instead of pretrial because of these same restrictions. Unfortunately , once pretrial interviews you and accepts you , you have no say so.
I remember a specific case years ago. The defendant was arrested and charged with a DUI. He was interviewed by pretrial and placed into the program. When he found out about all the restrictions he hired an attorney to try to get the pretrial program exchanged for a bail bond. The hearing was set to ask for a reasonable bond and the judge told him he could either stay on pretrial or post a $75,000 bond. In this county the normal bond amount at the time for a DUI was $500. A little excessive, you think?
Judges have also gone the route as to decide to place defendants on both pretrial and a bail. What’s the problem you may ask. Quite simple it causes confusion. You have two separate set of individual responsible for one defendant. Each giving direction and potentially overlapping each others authority. Pretrial would have you think that this dual bail arrangement was concocted by bonds and bail agents to relieve themselves of liability. This claim could not be more ludicrous as it makes no sense to bail agents to want others interfering making our job riskier and more difficult.
Pretrial provides no incentive for the defendant to come back to court nor do they have a financial obligation to the court if a defendant fails to show up. Bail agents are not afforded that luxury. So, while Pretrial tries to strong arm defendants with threats of violation and incarceration, bond bail agents are trying to diffuse potential scenarios to get them to calm down, comply and get to court. For pretrial to bark, threaten and scare defendants into submission is common. Defendants are routinely confused and do not understand that they were placed on the pretrial program and were also required to posted bail. One missed call will violate pretrial conditions and will cause a new warrant and arrest.
While bail agents work for the bonds and collect paperwork and applications on all defendants, pretrial employees many a times do not have information on people they recommend to be released. When confronted with a problem with a defendant they call the bail agents for the latest contact information on our “mutual” client and inform us they will be violating them for lack of contact.
There are certain offenses that by law do not even qualify for pretrial yet pretrial many of times ignores that. Charges such as domestic battery, aggravated assaults and other violent offenses are supposed to be excluded from pretrial consideration, yet at least in Florida are routinely recommended for pretrial and released by the judge under the pretrial program.
Bail agents are regulated by the states Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services . Who regulates the pretrial program? It all seems to be a mystery. While they are funded by the local and sometimes state government, little or no statistics are available. To comply with what they say is a campaign by the bail industry to put them out of business they come up with statistics every decade or so.
Pretrial programs initially were funded and implemented to relieve overcrowding at the correctional facilities. This comes with a hefty price for us as taxpayers, ultimately we foot the bill for this program. Bail on the other hand costs us nothing as the defendant, family or friends pay the bail and put up collateral in the event of a failure to appear. The bail agents is liable for the full amount of the bond. Collateral is the incentive for the defendants to show up otherwise the defendant and his family stand to lose such asset. Pretrial offers no incentive for the defendant to make his court appearances and in the event of a failure to appear or non compliance simply forward a violation notice to the judge for issuance of a warrant. No financial obligation on their part.
The whole program has strayed from its initial purpose. Pretrial does not release the indigent. They pretrial people willing and able to post bail based on random factors to determine their chance of flight. Pretrial release staff are government employees whose job is to interview defendants to gauge their eligibility for the program by considering the answers offered, and scoring them on a point system.
Today I read an article about the first county in Florida doing away with pretrial back in 2007 and the reports and results were to be expected. The exact article can be found at BailFlorida.com as represented by the Pasco Sheriffs office.
In conclusion they found -
The complete elimination of the taxpayer financed pretrial release program in Pasco County had no significant impact on jail population. If any impact must be drawn, one could conclude that eliminating the program actually reduced the per capita jail population while saving taxpayers nearly $350,000 per year.
Bonds Bail always a better alternative, compared to Pretrial.
PreTrial Release Examples
- Home - Pretrial Justice Institute
When people are arrested, their release or detention pending trial should be based on a thoughtful, informed assessment of whether they will stay crime-free while on release and return to court for trial.
- PreTrial Release Compliance with New Requirements is Mixed
Most pretrial release programs have complied with requirements to provide annual reports and maintain weekly registers of information on the defendants in their programs. However, many programs annual reports do not contain outcome data as required