“Every day, an average of 700,000 people who haven’t been convicted of a crime are separated from their families because they can’t afford money bail.”
Donald R. Cravins, Jr., Senior Vice President for Policy & Executive Director , Washington Bureau of the National Urban League.
If you’ve been disturbed by the recent implementation of a federal policy of family separation for immigrants and asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border, then the daily account of what happens through the regular exercise of our criminal justice system should have you outraged.
It may seem strange for a bail bonds website to take a position critical of the money bail system, but the truth is, bail reform is necessary, and it is happening, and the longer it takes, the longer certain populations in the US will be unfairly impacted by the legacy of a system that has echoes of a Civil War option to evade the draft for the simple fee of $300 – a policy that so obviously benefited only the moneyed and left everyone else without options.
Money Bail is Not Going Anywhere Soon
While the money bail system exists in the US, the system needs good actors. While people are arrested with no option for pretrial release EXCEPT for posting cash bail, good bail bondsmen provide a means for that release. And as we’ve stated many times before, pretrial release, in contrast to detention prior to any conviction, means being able to provide for family, being able to best prepare for a defense in court and being able to continue to work.
Black communities in particular are well-known to face the brunt of the cash bail system, which is only part of a criminal justice system that can work against them in a variety of ways. This is, of course, not to absolve anyone of responsibility when it comes to the necessity of arrest, detention, trial and incarceration in the face of crime. But as a society we need to be honest enough to recognize that there are parts of the system that need to be fixed.
Reform is Coming
Black voters overwhelmingly want reform of the bail system, and the criminal justice system more broadly. Fred Franks Bail Bonds’ mission is to exercise its role in the existing and changing system as fairly as it can be, basing it’s actions on the notion that people are innocent until proven guilty, and that people who are non-violent and demonstrated to not be a flight risk are better off (and the community is better off) with them being at home, at work, etc. while they wait and prepare for their day in court.
This means providing protection from bail bond companies that are predatory in nature – often using severe discounting to attract clients, but whose preference is for them to default. These are not contributors to the criminal justice system, they are parasites that look to extract value from the most vulnerable populations.
There are movements underway to pull back from the cash bail system. We support a robust, thoughtful and considered process of evidence-based policy reform, etc. In the meantime, the best options are for states to ensure compliance with regulations that already exist. The best options are for the industry to self-police and ensure best practices. The best options are for people that use the bail bonds system to ask the right questions so that they can be sure that they’re working with a good service provider.