A well-regulated bail system is essential to making sure that surety bail can continue to be a critical partner in the surety bail system. Because bail agents are conferred the power to arrest, it is essential that there be in place a system of rules and regulations that may accomplish that purpose. Often, however, we see some regulations that are for regulations’ sake rather than to protect the public. We strive nationally to help policy-makers find that balance.
Toward that end, the American Bail Coalition has called for the regulation of bail recovery agents when they are not otherwise licensed as bail agents. This is an important loophole that needs to be fixed in numerous states, and ABC is supporting legislation to fix this loophole in several states. On our website, you’ll find a policy statement in favor of such legislation.
Finally, the laws and regulations surrounding the process of posting bail, forfeiting bail, and surrendering fugitives can be improved in many states and localities. When we all work together we can reduce the resource impact of the process of arrest, release and return to court on states, local governments, law enforcement, bail agents, and the consumers who use the surety bail system and all other forms of releases.
The Reality: Surety bail is the most cost effective, least restrictive, and most reliable form of pretrial release available. The surety industry gives the ability to families and defendants who can’t afford the full amount of bail to get out for a small percentage of that cost.Jail overcrowding has been a hot topic in the criminal justice community for many years. Much of the blame for this issue has been placed on the surety bail industry and financial conditions of bail.
Unfortunately, this claim ignores the fact that surety bail accounts for a large percentage of releases that either would not occur without some security or for which costly government programs would have to monitor and supervise the defendants. In fact, there have been many academic studies done that prove the worth of surety bail. Check out our resource library to see many of these studies.
Additionally, ABC believes that one can’t simply blame another for causing jail overcrowding without first understanding who is in jail in the first place.
Understanding who is being held and why they are being held along with the requirements of them being held are extremely important aspects to know in order to identify the problem and even more importantly solve it. Once again, there have been several studies that have concluded that the jails are crowded not because of surety bail but rather because many of the individuals being held are not eligible for bail and are being held due to other legal barriers that have nothing to do with financial conditions of bail. Click here to visit our resource section to view many of these important studies.
Lastly, we believe that surety bail is not the cause of jail overcrowding but rather a smart and effective solution to solving it. In order to best manage jail populations, counties need a responsible and proven release mechanism as part of the mix that will truly guarantee appearance. Counties need a solution that is not just about assessing risk, but more importantly about managing risk out in the community. We believe that surety bail is the most effective and time proven method for solving this problem.