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Comparing Bail vs. Government Sponsored Pretrial Release

Last updated 6 years ago

In an article written in May 2012 in State Legislature Magazine, Richard Williams discusses how the majority of people who end up in local jails are not actually convicted criminals, but are simply waiting for trial and unable to pay their bail. According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, 60 percent of those in jail are only waiting disposition for their cases and not serving. In fact, of these 60 percent, three-fourths are accused of nonviolent offenses, yet locking them up is a huge contributor to the $9 billion local governments put towards jails each year.

Representative John Tilley (D) of Kentucky says, “We need to do a better job of distinguishing people who are suitable for release. We don’t want people sitting in jails only because they cannot afford their financial bail.” Kentucky lawmakers set out in 2011 to improve their pretrial system. They began requiring risk assessments and improving pretrial supervision. Anyone who is deemed low or moderate risk and seems likely to appear for court is released on their own recognizance. Kentucky Senator Tom Jensen (R) believes that the end goal is evident. “We want more cost-effective ways to hold offenders accountable while improving public safety,” says Jensen.

However, over the past 15 years, commercial bail has passed release on recognizance as the most common form of bail. Using commercial bond, a defendant is responsible to pay a nonrefundable fee to an agent who agrees to be responsible for the full bail amount if the defendant does not appear in court. Commercial bonding has become so common over the past two years that 27 laws have been enforced in 17 states relating to bondsmen licensure. Representative Mae Flexer (D) says, “There were a number of violent crimes across the state that we felt potentially could be stopped with changes to our bail laws.”

The service these private companies provide is “not only effective, it’s indispensable,” says Dennis Bartlett, executive director of the American Bail Coalition. “It doesn’t cost the public anything, and if the defendant skips [his or her court hearing] and is not recovered, the bail agent has to pay the court the full amount of the bond, in cash.”

If you have any questions about the bail bond process, contact 24 Seven Bail Bonds in New Jersey. If your loved one is currently being accused of criminal charges, give us a call at (732) 418-2245 and we’ll help you post bail.


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