There has been a lot of controversy about the bail bonds service industry over the last few years. Many argue that that there is a double standard, a system for the rich and a system for the poor. But what really is the case? Here is our take on it and what we believe.
If you are arrested for a crime and taken to jail you can either sit there and wait for your trial, which can take up to several months. In the mean time you loose your job, your apartment or house if you own one, cars and maybe even your significant other. But if you use a bondsman, then you can get out of jail right away by paying a fee.
Here is where a lot of people are mislead. EVERYONE pays the fee when they employ a bondsman. Not just the poor. Now if you don’t have the 10% to get someone released the bondsman may also charge additional interest on the loan. This is not a practice that we are fond of. If the bondsman doesn’t want to make the bail and allow payments for the regular amount, they they shouldn’t make the bond.
Bail bondsman also help with making sure that people show up for their court dates and take this burden off of tax payers. If people are released on their own recognizance and don’t show up for court and run, who is going to bring them to justice and face the court, and more over, who is going to pay for it? It will either be the police to recover the jumper or a special group employed by the government to wrangle in these fugitives. And with there being a shortage of police officers they don’t have the time to do this. And we as tax payers will end up footing the bill.
Recently there was a new law suit filed in California to abolish the bonds system. While we don’t totally agree with the bondsman’s ethics, many states will be watching to see what happens. An article written by PAUL ELIAS for WRAL.com told it like this –
Crystal Patterson didn’t have the cash or assets to post $150,000 bail and get out of jail after her arrest for assault in October.
So Patterson, 39, promised to pay a bail bonds company $15,000 plus interest to put up the $150,000 bail for her, allowing to go home and care for her invalid grandmother.
The day after her release, the district attorney decided not to pursue charges. But Patterson still owes the bail bonds company. Criminal justice reformers and lawyers at a nonprofit Washington, D.C., legal clinic say that is unconstitutionally unfair.
The lawyers have filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Patterson, Rianna Buffin and other jail inmates who argue that San Francisco and California’s bail system unconstitutionally treats poor and wealthy suspects differently.
Wealthy suspects can put up their houses or other valuable assets — or simply write a check — to post bail and stay out of jail until their cases are resolved. Poorer suspects aren’t so lucky. Many remain behind bars or pay nonrefundable fees to bail bonds companies.
San Francisco public defender Chesa Boudin says some of his clients who can’t afford to post bail plead guilty to minor charges for crimes they didn’t commit so they can leave jail.
Boudin represented Buffin, 19, after her arrest for grand theft in October. Buffin couldn’t afford to post the $30,000 bail or pay a bond company a $3,000 fee and so contemplated pleading guilty in exchange for a quick release from jail even though she says her only crime was being with the “wrong people at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Michelle Esquenazi tosses her mane of flaming red curls, kicks her feet clad in five-inch stilettos onto her desk and hollers for her assistant.
Meet the Bail Bond Queen, a New York mother of four with a “Master’s degree from the streets of Brooklyn” who worked her way up from being a paralegal student on welfare to company’s CEO.
She is the woman who can get you out of jail and calm your tearful mother — for a price — and she’s the one who is going to put you back behind bars if you do a runner.
“I always say I’m a b*****, but I’m not a stupid b*****,” Esquenazi tells AFP in Hempstead, a town on Long Island about an hour’s train ride east of New York.
Her company, Empire Bail Bonds, is the largest in New York state that helps thousands of clients navigate the US legal system when they get arrested.
The Justice Policy Institute estimates there are 15,000 bail bond agents in the United States, writing bonds for about $14 billion a year in a private industry unmatched anywhere but the Philippines.
Critics complain they take billions from low-income people, with no return on investment in terms of public safety.
Esquenazi says she’s doing society a favour.
“We do what governments don’t have the resources to do. We do everything at no taxpayers’ expense,” she explains, sipping milky coffee.
Anyone arrested in New York state must appear in court within 24 hours when the judge sets bail. Defendants can either pay cash or purchase a bond to secure their release.
Those who can afford to pay bail get all their money back if they keep all their court dates, even if they are eventually found guilty.
But for those of limited means, bonds are the only option. They pay Esquenazi a non-refundable fee to cover bail for them.
So if they do a runner, she sends her bounty hunters — Hollywood, Mr T and Jizo — to haul them back into jail.