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Who Makes Money From Bail-YJ4jFYFAiYU

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Who Makes Money From Bail-YJ4jFYFAiYU

there’s about 450,000 people awaiting
trial in city and county jails across
the United States while arrested on
suspicion of committing a crime they are
legally innocent and studies estimate
the majority of them are incarcerated
simply because they cannot afford bail
what cash bail did was create a two-tier
system of justice one for the rich and
one for everybody else it’s
unconstitutional to jail people just
because they don’t have access to a sum
of money many others have had to secure
their release using bail bonds private
industry does it better bail agents do
it better collectively handing over an
estimated two billion dollars per year
to private companies in exchange for
their freedom bill is an important
constitutional right and without it what
are we saying we’re saying the
government just gets to decide who they
get to lock up period end of story and
throw away the key how do bail become so
central to our criminal justice system
why is it suddenly on the chopping block
and are the proposed solutions any
better to understand how we got here we
need to start with the fact that 40% of
people in the United States cannot
afford a $400 emergency cost that cash
bail whether it’s $500 or $100 may as
well be a million or five million from
those people coming in and out of the
system bail has a disparate impact on
people of color it has a disparate
impact on people from low-income
communities and on women and moms the
average bail is about $10,000 for felony
charge while even cheaper bails for
misdemeanors can routinely run 500 or a
thousand dollars that makes paying bail
impossible for many leaving them to
await trial in jail jail is primarily
for others awaiting trial and those
serving shorter sentences while prison
is usually for convicted criminals
serving out longer terms but even a
small amount of time in jail can have
serious consequences for someone who
can’t pay bail controlling for all other
factors sitting in jail pretrial is the
single greatest predictor of a
conviction basically just being in jail
before trial makes people more likely to
plead guilty and serve longer sentences
there’s often no clarity about what
their options are they may not have a
lawyer come and see them
so people plead guilty because jail is a
terrifying violent and dehumanizing
place to be there’s no other way to
describe it so when you’re in that
circumstance and your family and your
life and your job and your home are
outside if the only way to get back to
safety is to plead guilty you’ll plead
guilty whether you did it or not if you
know you’re gonna have to sit in that
jail cell for days or weeks or months or
yes even years before your case actually
comes to a close and that way time can
be dangerous as originally reported by
the New York Times and confirmed to CNBC
by his attorney
Tyrone Tomlin was beaten to the point of
needing medical attention while he
awaited trial at New York City’s
notorious Rikers Island jail the reason
for his arrest holding a straw he was
about to drink a soda with police said
it could be used for heroin but test
results came back negative on the straw
even if charges like this are dropped
that time defendants spend stuck in jail
can initiate a destructive chain of
events in their lives outside of jail
your life is falling apart you can lose
your job you can lose your kids your
immigration status may be jeopardized
you can lose your house and get evicted
you can be thrown out of school
so there’s a whole collateral wave of
damage that happens to you to your
family’s life and to your community bail
bonds can offer a way out a bail bond is
a service you purchase for someone else
to pay your bail if you can’t afford it
yourself that person is called a
bondsman or bond agent so the way it’ll
work is a defendant will get arrested
and then they will call a friend or
family and say it’s often that family
member who contacts the bond agent then
the bond agent sets out a fee of about
10 to 15 percent of the total bail
amount so for a common ten thousand
dollar bail the fee would be about 1,000
to 1,500 dollars the family member can
pay that upfront or set up a payment
plan the bond agent then writes the
payment terms into a contract which the
family member usually co-signs with the
defendant you want to have a strong
cosigner because if the person is not
doing what they’re supposed to the third
party who’s financially liable along
with the bail agent will lien
the defendant to make them do what
they’re supposed to we use something
that’s called the circle of love and
that would be mom dad sister brother on
Uncle people that have a direct familial
connection to the defendant the accused
has a lot more to fear from mom and dad
and grandma than he does the department
of probation that co-signed contract
almost always makes the defendant and
the cosigner financially liable for the
entire sum of the bail and it often
requires the posting of collateral like
a house or a car the contract also lays
out the bond agents terms for the
defendants release in-person check-ins
they can require ankle monitors to be
put on so they can monitor the
whereabouts of somebody really what
you’re doing is you’re transferring
custody from the sheriff to the bail
agent so defendant gets out of
incarceration within 24 hours they come
in we take a picture of them and then
they physically check in once per week
until the final disposition of the case
and as long as the defendant sticks to
the terms of their agreement they await
their trial with their freedom when they
obtain Liberty they truly obtain Liberty
they go back to their jobs they go back
to their lives if they skip bail oh you
know then it’s on you know then we of
course we’re gonna pump them down any
which way that we can we hunt the
warranted I mean that’s what we do while
America sleeps that’s what the bail
industry is doing but critics say the
industry places an undue financial
burden on lower-income defendants and
their families if you’re rich and post
bail you’ll get that money back after
you show up to your trial if you get a
bail bond you won’t get back the ten to
fifteen percent fee you paid a bond
agent to post your bail critics also say
the bail bond process leaves defendants
open to alleged extortion from bond
agents bond agents may arrest their
clients for not meeting the terms of
their contracts require drug tests
enforce curfews and even perform
searches on client’s homes or vehicles
they can also often revoke bail and send
clients back to jail these powers can
give bond agents leverage to extract
additional payments from clients one
example of this allegedly occurred in
the New Orleans area
where
the ganna ran into trouble moments after
his family secured his release from jail
with Blair’s bail bonds once Ronald got
out he was told for the first time that
he had to also wear an ankle monitor
that was not court-ordered it was a
requirement of the bail bond company and
that that ankle monitor would cost $10 a
day on top of the money that he owed on
his premium the Southern Poverty Law
Center has since filed a lawsuit on
again-as behalf according to the suit he
ganas family couldn’t afford his $3,000
bail bond fee and had to set up a
payment plan so it’s no surprise that he
soon fell behind on the extra $300 per
month ankle monitor charge the bail bond
companies bounty hunters showed up at
his workplace armed and they arrested
him took him to their office where they
kept him in a back room handcuffed and
made him call his mother and tell her
that unless she brought $800 to them
right away he would be surrendered to
the jail according to the suit over
several hours she gathers the money and
then goes to pick up her son but then
she brought it down to the bail bond
company and once she did that they said
actually we need you to pay another
$1,500 so she leaves and she goes
through that whole process again she
gets $1,500 she pays it to the bail bond
company and only then do they release
him and apparently this continued to
happen in one instance the bounty
hunters even allegedly intercepted Agana
at the courthouses metal detectors as he
tried to report for trial causing him to
miss the court date blares bail bonds
did not immediately respond to requests
for comment but industry members
condemned this sort of conduct we’re
against it we think it’s wrong if it
does happen we urge people to report it
to the departments and have them
investigate and discipline people who do
that there are always going to be bad
operators in every industry but for the
most part that’s just not the
interaction between bail agent family
member the accused that’s just not the
way it works the Southern Poverty Law
Center says a ganas case helped crack
open a much larger pattern of abuse in
the New Orleans bail bond industry they
filed a complaint with the Louisiana
State authorities in 2017 alleging the
bail industry took over 5 million
dollars
and illegal fees from about 50,000
low-income people in 2019
Louisiana state authorities ordered the
bail companies to repay that money
however due to a law change it hasn’t
been paid back when we think of
commercial bail bonds agencies we think
of the sort of mom-and-pop shops small
business owners who we see in a lot of
communities there are roughly 25,000 but
they’re backed by only nine major
insurance companies so at the top of
this sort of economic food chain there
are major companies who write the rules
who make it so that those bonding agents
take all of the risk of loss but it’s
important to note big insurance
companies don’t under it all bond agents
I actually am the CEO of our own family
insurance company although ours is not
national like some of the national
insurers that you’re referring to they
are indeed my brethren so the fact of
the matter is yes absolutely they make
money but they also pay loss still
reports indicate the biggest bail bond
insurers rarely take a loss
even when bail money is forfeited with
multiple industry executives on the
record saying they have gone years
without losing any money say my bond is
$10,000 the insurance companies they
have the bonding agents agreement to pay
that 10,000 and they have these special
funds called build-up funds that the
bonding agent has been continually
paying into to make sure that 10,000
never comes out of their own pocket
another way insurance companies protect
themselves from loss is the strict
contracts bail agents use which tend to
pass on the burden of paying a surrender
bail to defendants and their co-signers
the insurance companies also provide
form contracts that get used across the
country so their lawyers have worked up
long contracts with all kinds of fine
print
we think those contracts are largely
unenforceable but then why do people
sign them in general at the point that
the person who has been bailed out is
actually sitting down to sign the
documents and seeing them for the first
time their family members have probably
already paid a very significant amount
of money to the bail bondsman and the
bail bondsman are at liberty to say okay
if you don’t like the terms of this
Agreement then you’re free to not sign
and we’ll just surrender you back to
jail and we’re not going to return the
premium amount so that moment is
actually one in which there’s quite a
bit of coercion going on a study from
UCLA reviewing over 100 different
California bail bond businesses
contracts found a litany of clauses that
researchers believed could not stand up
against a challenge in court I don’t
agree with what UCLA has done on that
analysis legally certainly if they
thought they had grounds I think they’d
be suing us right now but the reality is
if you look at most commercial contracts
people don’t read them they don’t
understand them and they don’t care and
that goes for your cable your power all
this sort of thing you’re signing all
these contracts so I think that’s just a
problem in general ours are really not
any different than any other industry
issues like this have helped spur a
water Bell reform movement focused on
short-term measures to relieve those
impacted by bail immediately and
longer-term wants to reform you late the
larger bail system for example phones
are sprouting up that pool charitable
dollars to pay people’s bail the bail
project has done about 8,000 bail outs
for people across the country what we’re
seeing is that the overwhelming majority
of our clients come back for their court
dates there are much more positive
outcomes for people the ACLU is also
working to challenge bond companies and
the bail system in courthouses around
the country we have two cases in Alabama
two in Texas we’ve filed cases in
Mississippi and Georgia that have
concluded Florida Pennsylvania Michigan
New York then there’s policy makers
trying to institute large-scale bail
reform Washington DC did it successfully
decades ago but has had trouble getting
other jurisdictions on board California
got close when it passed a bill to get
rid of bail in 2018 but major push back
from the bail in
history in one of its largest markets
along with a bipartisan uproar over the
use of risk assessment algorithms to
determine whether defendants would be
released before their trials halted its
implementation those algorithms had
already been tried in other
jurisdictions with controversial results
research is very clear that they do
absolutely nothing to reduce racial
disparities that we see so you still see
the same burden of the system being
borne by black and brown and low-income
people new jersey passed bill reform in
2014 but has since struggled to find
money to pay additional personnel
required to keep track of defendants
something the bond industry once did
therefore many defendants at no cost to
the state New York seems to have the
most popular support from the reformer
movement at the moment the state is
working to implement new laws that
drastically reduced the use of bail and
avoid algorithms but many bond agents
they’re worried it will push up crime
levels this is a direct hit to the crime
victims and a direct hit to the public
safety not only of every citizen in the
state of New York but at every global
visitor as the country waits to see what
happens in New York a clear vision for
bail reform remains elusive
but in the meantime the issue has become
a bellwether of the larger conversation
about mass incarceration in the United
States
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