Bail Bonds v. Pretrial Services

Pretrial Services came into existence during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. It was due to jail overcrowding and rioting in the local New York City jails. An investigation into the New York City’s jails showed most inmates were in custody because they could not afford bail. Thus, own recognizance (O.R.) release was introduced into the bail system.

Furthermore, legal scholars in the 50’s had serious constitutional questions regarding the bail system. They found the system was in violation of the 8th amendment, excessive bail should not be required. Others believed the system economically discriminated against individuals and contradicted the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.

Today, you will find many different opinions and arguments regarding the bail system. For example, the commercial bail industry is constantly involved with local government, legislation, etc.. regarding new laws related to bail. Extensive research and studies from major universities have reported the Pretrial Services on O.R. releases have failed the system at the American taxpayers expense. Studies show inmates released without any financial obligations(O.R.) have a higher chance of failure to appear. In California, it can cost the taxpayer between $7,000-$10,000 for efforts on bringing the individual back to court!

The issues regarding bail are a fraction of the issues faced by the criminal justice system. Pretrial Services and bail bond companies unfortunately see the bail system in different perspectives.

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