Recently the surety bail industry has been in the media and political spotlights. These are some common misconceptions that need to be cleared up.
TRUE OR FALSE
The court sets bail at a certain amount and the only choice a person has is to pay it or await trial in jail.
FALSE: There is a third choice: hire a bail bond agent to pay the bond for you. You pay the bail agent 10% (in most states) of the bond. For example is bail if set at $1,000 then you pay $100 to the bail agent. You pay a bail agent 15-20% of the bail amount.
FALSE: The vast majority of bonds are issued at 10%. Pretrial services are better and cheaper.
FALSE: Defendants released on pretrial release are at least 5 times more likely to fail to show up for first appearance in court.* Both pretrial release and surety bail get defendants out of jail, except pretrial release programs cost the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars while surety bail costs the taxpayers nothing.
Also, defendants released on surety bail typically pay 10% of the bond, while defendants released on pretrial release usually have to pay periodic fees for things like GPS monitoring, drug/alcohol testing, drug/alcohol treatment, etc.
Pretrial release is a tenth of the cost of keeping someone in jail.
FALSE: This is a false comparison. Pretrial release can only be compared to surety bail. Pretrial release programs cost the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, while surety bail costs the taxpayers $0. The government also pays when defendants don’t show up to court after being released through pretrial release.
Defendants released under pretrial release are 5 times more likely to fail to appear in court than defendants released under surety bail. Our current bail system makes no sense and it does a lot of harm.
FALSE: The bail system is a constitutionally guaranteed right. It costs the taxpayers nothing and has the highest success rate for defendants showing up for first court appearance.*