How bail reform affects bail bonds

The original intent of bail was to have people accused of a crime give something valuable enough to make sure that they’d return to trial in exchange for not having to remain in jail until their trial. This system has been accused of being unfair. In most states, people must pay bail in cash. The wealthy have no problem affording their bail, but those who aren’t well off and don’t have enough cash to cover their bail have to find a way to get cash for bail or remain in jail until their court date. People can pay a percentage of their bail to a bail bond agent as a fee for a bond, and that bail agent will then post bail for them so that they can be released until their trial, but many people still cannot afford the price of a bail bond and remain in jail. California has tried to address this problem with bail reform. California’s bail reform seeks to take money out of the equation and replace it with pretrial assessments. Those offenders deemed “low risk” will be released until their trial date, those considered “medium” risk will be either kept in jail or released at the choice of the jurisdiction, and those who are “high” risk will be held in jail until their arraignment. However, this new system has the potential to keep more people locked up than the current system, something that has even the ACLU, the Essie Justice Group, and SV De-Bug concerned. Reformers are also concerned that the conditions for release could be so burdensome that the released accused offenders might have difficulty holding down a job, complying with other release conditions, and might even end up back in jail, begging the question of whether or not it really helps. This new system completely eliminates bail bonds in California and will leave those in the California bail bond industry jobless. Similar laws that do not completely eliminate the bail bond industry have been passed in Kentucky, New Jersey, and New Mexico.

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