Friday, January 14, 2011

Bail Bonds: ALEC Pins the Tail on the Pretrial Release Donkey

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) issued a press release on Tuesday on the dwindling local jail population in America. Did you see it? If not you can read it by clicking on the following link... Jail Population.

You definitely should read the release, especially if you have been subject to the recent specious (means deceptive) plethora of drivel spewing forth from the "free bail bond stores" (county pretrial release agencies) defenders.

These big government advocates, enemies of the private sector, rail on and on about how poor people have to languish in jail pending trial because they do not have the money for a bail bond. This unfair treatment of these poor unfortunates operates to heavily overpopulate the country's county jails.

'Horse pucky!' says ALEC's press release. It points to authorities standing for the proposition that, while from 2007 to 2009 the nation's local jail inmate count has DECREASED, the percentage of persons released on commercial bail has... you guessed it: INCREASED.

How can this possibly be, if more and more defendants remain in the county jail because they cannot afford to buy a bail bond? It cannot be. That flat will not compute. Pure and simple. It just cannot be.

And do you know what? People today can afford to purchase a bail bond. In fact, they can arrange for one today easier than at any time in the nation's history (yes, commercial bail bonds have always been around in America). And do you know why bail bonds are more affordable today than ever before? It is simple: the sellers of the bonds have adjusted their pricing model to meet the needs of the marketplace. That's all. Times are hard, and the bail bond sellers have responded positively to the difficulties of today's purchasing environment.

Jails are overflowing because pretrial inmates cannot afford a bail bond?

Specious, I say. Horse pucky, I say.

What say you?


  1. Solid! I posted your latest blog on my Facebook page to read! Thanks, Jerry!

  2. Uniform Crime Report, issued by the FBI, confirms that arrests are down significantly. When arrests go down, so do jail populations. If you review the data, you will see that pretrial release rates remained consistent, that is, 85% of those detained pretrial continued to be those held on money bonds they cannot afford to pay.

  3. What is the cost to the taxpayers of America to manage the hundreds of thousands of accused out of custody on pretrial release without hope of collecting the inevitable forfeitures associated with those who failure to appear? Someone should compare that to the revenue raised by the collection of forfeitures from commercial bail bonds that did not cost one red cent to the taxpayers.

  4. Dear Anonymous:

    Thank you for your response.

    Yes, I am familiar with the Uniform Crime Report and the high inmate retention factor, despite arrests being down.

    I must nevertheless disagree with your notion that people are in jail "because they cannot afford a bond." While this is the major mantra of the pretrial release agencies champions, a closer look will always reveal that this is not the case.

    Local jail inmates are there for a variety of reasons, just some of them being: (1) they are serving county jail sentences, (2) they are awaiting transportation to the state penitentiary, (3) they are being held on "no bail" offenses such as parole violations, (4) they are state or federal prisoners being "detention contracted" to the county, (5) sometimes the court has, in error, set their bail extraordinarily high in order to prevent release, and (6) there are no doubt a small percentage who, as you say, cannot make bail themselves or in the alternative pay a bondman to post bail for them.

    It must be realized, however, that even of this small percentage of "cannot arrange for a bondsman" inmates there is a reason why a bondsman will not bail them out. It is usually that they are quite certain to abscond, because they fall into one of two categories: (1) they are pure transients or (2) they are totally incorrigible, meaning that they have burned every bridge they ever had and people in the community who know them do not want them out and therefore refuse to cooperate in the their release.

    Other than these two inmate types, and the ones with extraordinarily high bail,
    anyone today can pay a bail premium because of the consumer-friendly pricing models available.

    So, again in all due respect, I think you are mistaken in your belief that people languish in county jails only because they cannot afford bail. That being said, I do appreciate your responding to my blog.

    A personal question, if I may? Two questions, actually: (1) are you the same "anonymous" who has responded before, and (2) why are you choosing anonymity? I would like to suggest that you "come out" for two reasons: one, being in the shadow is a bummer, and two, it makes open dialogue impossible. I would like to explore our differences of opinion more freely. Who knows? Maybe there is some common ground we could reach. Communication is always the best solvent. If you are amenable to such an exploration, give me a call. I mean it when I say I would appreciate the opportunity to talk.


    See January 15,2011 "The truth is that arrests have declined significantly (according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report) and thus jail admissions have declined. This actually accounts for the reduction in jail populations. BJS data continue to show that 85% of those detained pretrial are being detained on money bonds they cannot meet."

    I find it interesting that the same day they "shared" your blog post link on their Facebook page (that is how I found this blog entry), someone anonymous commented here... This kind of behavior by Pretrail Justice Institute speaks volumes.