The government is beginning to tighten its legislation on commercial bail bonds.
The bail bonds industry began at the end of the 19 century as a means to privatize the criminal justice system. Initially allowed by the government to help alleviate the burden of tax payers dollars this system has grown since it was established. A bail bondsman is beneficial to local government because they handle paperwork processing that is time intensive and are also responsible for the detention of their clients in the event that they fail to appear in court. Without bondsmen this process would take a vast majority of civil servants’ time and warrant detainment time would be drastically increased from the time a fugitive flees.
Without bondsmen police officers, sheriffs and marshals would be forced to take on cases of failure to appear in court warrants which is often a common occurrence in the court systems. Despite all the benefits there are obviously some downsides to attempting to privatize an industry that operates in a similar manner as law enforcement. State governments have already begun to pass laws and regulations to limit or completely eliminate bail bonds companies to operate. We have already begun to see laws like this in California where the court houses offer bail to the defendant from the local government with an option to process this through a bondsman.
Some states however intend to do away with the industry as a whole. States such as Wisconsin, Illinois, Oregon and Kentucky have passed legislation to outlaw the bail bonds industry all together. The drawback to this type of legislation is that it drastically slows down the criminal justice process by allocating responsibilities on limited resources (man power) for a duty that was previously handled by a private industry. This becomes a nightmare for fugitive tracking within the local level of law enforcement and federal law enforcement would not intervene unless the particular case is severe by nature.
Statistically, the rate of failure to appear warrants is lower for a defendant that has been released on commercial bail, followed by a defendant released on their own accord and lastly the government bond process. The bond process provided by local government is not inadequate, but the knowledge that a bounty hunter will not be actively pursuing and following up with a defendant about their court dates appears to be the major increase in these statistics.
The current system in place mandates a strict percentage that a bondsman will take from a bond set forth to secure a defendant’s release. In a state like California this percentage is 10%. It is illegal for a bail bonds company to take more than 10% of the bond value provided to the court their processing fee to reduce the number of illegitimate bail bonds companies in operation.
Overall the bail bonds system currently in place in this nation, although sometimes clouded with mystery and negative behavior by select abusers, provides an essential service to assist not only the justice system but the general public as well. Working with individuals to process the necessary legal paperwork and alleviating public servant hours hunting bail jumpers are the benefits that commercial bail provides for the public.