Good Idea...or Just a Scam?
The concept of pretrial release originated based on the premise that the poor and indigent were being penalized because they could not afford bail and therefore were being held in jail longer than those who could post bail right away.
By establishing a pretrial release program, each defendant is "screened" in an effort to make a more informed decision about wether the defendant poses enough of a threat to warrant the bail that was imposed. While the concept is understandable, it already exists. "Bail hearings" are typically held within 24-48 hours after incarceration. During a bail hearing, a judge can hear arguments from both the defense and the prosecution, as well as the defendants family and from any other source that can offer evidence as to why the defendant should or should not have a change in his bail. Judges have the power to ROR (release on own recognizance) defendants and do so at their discretion.
The issue was never monetary. The issue was never bail. The issue began because the judicial systems failure to function quick enough to do what they were designed to...charge/bail/bail review/release. Due to the efforts of organizations like the Vera Institute and The John and Arnold Foundation, and their brainwashing of legislators and citizens, they came up with a "risk based analysis" that incorporates a computer model to determine the likelihood of a defendants failure to appear and risk of committing a new crime. This was never a problem...but now it is for the taxpayers.
The issues with Pretrial Release and the companies that maintain the programs are many. From the design and fairness of their process to the effectiveness...there is a plethora of problems. That said, two problems are the most relevant...
1. Accountability - Pretrial release programs have ZERO accountability if a defendant fails to appear, commits another crime, or adheres to any court ordered conditions of bail. ZERO. Why have a program in place that has no accountability? Anyone see a problem with this? The accountability for commercial bail is big. Not only are private surety's responsible for the monitoring of defendants and their appearance to any and all court appearances, should they fail to appear...private surety is on the hook for the entire face value of the bond. 100% accountability. 100% of the time.
2. Cost - The cost for funding pretrial release programs are enormous...to the tune of MILLIONS. Pretrial programming and software, staff, more judges, more prosecutors, more space, overtime...the costs are everywhere. The pretrial program supporters want you to believe that a reduced jail population will make this up. That's false...and they know it. A system where everyone who is arrested must go to jail for up to 48 hours will increase the population, not decrease it. Thousands of people are released on their own or by posting bail (using a bondsman or 10% option) before they go to the jail everyday. The taxpayers of New Jersey are slated to spend roughly 50+ MILLION on this program. In addition to that, those offenders that fail to appear, will have to be recovered by your local police and fugitive teams. Who pays for this? Yep, you guessed it...the taxpayers.
So what does Private Surety Bail cost the Taxpayers?
The cost to taxpayers for private Surety Bail? ZERO
The cost to taxpayers for fugitive recovery? ZERO
The cost to monitor each defendant? ZERO
The penalty for the private commercial bondsman that does not recapture their fugitive? The FULL face value of the bond.