A bail bond services industry allows incarcerated people to stay out of jail while they await trial. This keeps them involved in income-generating activities, promoting economic development, and reducing their reliance on social welfare programs.
Bail bond agents make billions a year by promising to post bail for those who cannot afford it. They charge a fee of 10 percent, substantially lower than the amount they stand to lose if the defendant fails to appear in court.
Increased Tax Revenue
The COVID-19 pandemic has given new urgency to decades-long debates about one of the biggest causes of jail density: money bail. Currently, most people locked up in prisons and jails in the US are there because they cannot afford to get out while waiting for their trials. This $2 billion industry contributes to mass incarceration, including keeping poor people in jail longer than necessary.
Those who can afford it, often affluent, pay cash bonds to be freed. However, the vast majority of those held on bail cannot afford to do so and hire a bond company to post their bond for them in exchange for a fee. These fees can be astronomically high, and the bond companies often tether poor defendants to predatory contracts that extend long after their cases have closed.
This wastes public funds and keeps people in jail who do not need to be there. This is why several states have passed laws to end money bail, and the federal government should follow suit.
As the number of people in jails reaches record highs, some reform advocates call for sweeping changes to pretrial justice policies. They say the current system overuses money bail and leads to racial disparities.
Potter County bail bonds free up capital that can be pumped into the local economy, promoting economic development. Defendants released on bond can involve themselves in income-generating activities, encouraging growth and increasing state tax revenue. The cost of maintaining incarcerated individuals also negatively impacts the economy because national income from taxes is spent on their upkeep.
Bail bond companies like Blair’s take a fee, typically 10%, in exchange for guaranteeing the payment of the original bail amount. For poor defendants, those fees can be a significant burden. They can mean rent isn’t paid or a family can’t be fed. That’s why many who cannot afford the fee often sell personal property or pawn valuables to cover the debt. In addition to interest, those costs can pile up quickly.
As the coronavirus pandemic has brought national attention to the need for prison reform, it’s also added intensity to a decades-long debate about one of the leading causes of crowded jails: money bail.
Many people arrested on felony charges are not wealthy enough to come up with the money to secure their release from jail while they wait for their trial. As a result, they are forced to turn to bail bond companies.
Bail bonds allow defendants to keep working and participating in the economy, which benefits everyone involved. When someone awaiting trial can keep earning their income, they can pay their bills and support their family. They can continue contributing to society in various ways, including paying taxes and purchasing goods and services that help boost the economy.
However, insurance companies that back bail bonds often profit billions annually. This is problematic, as the guiding motive of these insurers to make profits usually runs counter to the pursuit of justice.
Bail bonds are a private transaction, but they significantly impact the economy. By providing a way for people awaiting trial to continue working, bail bonds allow them to keep contributing money to society. They can also spend that money, which helps the economy grow.
Bail bonds also provide an essential service to low-income individuals. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, the median bail amount for a felony charge is $10,000, which most arrested individuals and their families could not afford. Many would be forced to stay in jail without bail bonds until their case is resolved.
Insurance companies spend millions of dollars each year to defeat proposals to weaken or abolish the for-profit bail industry, which brings them $15 billion in annual revenue. The insurance giants argue that eliminating money bail will worsen poverty, crime, and inequality in pretrial proceedings. The Pretrial Justice Institute, on the other hand, argues that reforming the system is essential to addressing its problems.