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Exchanging Cash for Freedom: Predatory Bail Bonds in the U.S. Criminal Justice System


While the United States criminal justice system accepts money in exchange for short-term freedom, the established predatory bail bond service is somehow becoming another barrier. In the US, global insurance companies and bail bondsman enterprises are getting between $1.4 and $2.4 billion each year from desperate people who cannot post bail, but want to get out of jail before their case is heard and determined. Nevertheless, this is not a new issue because it is something that has been happening for a while in the United States criminal justice system.

bail court

A bail bond agent provides a bond for individuals who are not able to pay the required amount but want to get out of jail as quickly as possible. The bail bond agent will post bail for a fee of 10%, which is not refundable. When the accused appears in court, the bail bond agent will receive the full amount that he had paid from the court, but the accused will still owe the bondsman for the non-refundable payment and any other fees that he may have incurred for the service.

As a way to reduce their risks, bail bond agents and the insurance entities working with them usually lock individuals who want bail and their loved ones into invasive contracts. Typically, the contract states that anyone who receives the bail bond may be subjected to invasive surveillance like vehicle tracking and searches without a warranty. Furthermore, the accused is often required to put up things such as their houses or vehicles as collateral. In a situation where the value of the property given as collateral reduces, the bail bondsman is allowed to re-arrest the defendant. In such cases, the bail bondsman hires private contractors such as bounty hunters to do track the defendant.

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