Google and Facebook Banned Ads for Bail Bond Agencies
On May 7th of 2018, both Google and Facebook announced they will no longer take money from bail bond agencies – eliminating advertising from these agencies from both of their platforms. With Google having a virtual monopoly on digital advertising, it is both deeply disturbing and damaging to the ability of bail bond business owners to grow and sustain their companies.
The Issue with Banning Bail Bond Advertising
Many have found Google and Facebook’s decision to ban bail bond advertising from their platforms to be quite disturbing. The offering of bail bonds is a legal service, one of which is necessary for many to navigate the legal system. The use of bail bonds has been found to be used primarily in low-income areas and in communities of color, which is what those who oppose the advertising of bail bonds argue is one of the main issues. However, for those living in these areas, it’s also been found that, no matter which way you look at it, they are the ones that need the most help in paying bail, should the situation occur. So if bail bonds are outlawed, what acceptable options do people of these communities have?
The decision to ban advertising from bail bond companies doesn’t eliminate the need for those that may be less well-off financially in order to pay bail, it just makes it harder to find help in doing so.
An alternate reaction to the ban of these ads is the reduction of competition within the bail bond market. When there is minimal competition in a market (whatever type it may be), prices are raised; when bail bond prices are raised, people may find themselves in jail longer than they should be.
Not All Bonds Agencies Are Dishonest
In any line of work, there are bound to be dishonest and egocentric businesses whose main goal is solely to make a profit. But, that doesn’t mean that every business is that way. In the world of bail bond companies, there are actually a large majority of providers that do more than just focus on the financial side of the service by offering insight and support into the legal system and how best to navigate it.
Additional Services Bail Bond Companies Offer
Many bail bond companies offer more than just funds to get you out of jail. If you somehow find yourself in the position of needing bailed out of jail and can’t afford to pay the bail yourself, it’s probably safe to assume that you won’t have enough money on hand to hire a private attorney, either. For those in this unfortunate situation, bail bond agents are there to help.
On top of providing the funds to get you out of jail in a timely fashion, they can also help you to navigate through the legal process. They can help you with the oftentimes confusing paperwork you are required to fill out, help you to make sense of required court proceedings, and can even go so far as to go with a client to turn themselves in at the police station.
Agents and their staff can also help you in making sure you know when you court date is, check the status of any outstanding warrants, contact the staff at the court on your behalf, and even personally drive you to your court date. By driving the defendant to court, they are ensuring their investment. If a defendant doesn’t appear at scheduled court dates, the court keeps their money and is not returned.
Again, not every bail bond company will offer these services, but many reputable ones do!
A Much Needed Service Throughout All Cities
In Google’s press release, they say, “We made this decision based on our commitment to protect our users from deceptive or harmful products…” If it is the judicial system that sets bail amounts, how is it fairly assumed that the need to pay this bail must inevitably involve “deceit and harm”? For many, this is the only option available to them and others within their community.
Even for those who have gone through the procedure before, the pre-trial and hearing processes can be intimidating and confusing, causing the defendant and their family and friends to feel overcome with anxiety. Bail bond agents aid in eliminating some of that stress by being able to walk all parties through the process, what it means, and can even give insight as to what options you may have available to you. Addressing these concerns help to ensure a defendant will appear at all scheduled court dates.
Different Types of Release
Every state is different when it comes to requirements that must be met in order to be released from jail. Several states will not require defendants to pay non-refundable premiums to be released from jail. Instead, they will use a variety of techniques such as: having defendants pay money to the court that they will then get back at the end of the case assuming they appear to all scheduled court dates (bail); deny any release on bail, requiring the defendant to pay fees for missing any court dates; mandating conditions of the release (i.e. wearing an electronic monitor, checking in with court staff).
Bail Bonds Make It More Likely Defendants Show Up for Trial
Some agencies find that defendants that were released on bond are much more likely to show up for hearings and court dates than those who were released through other methods. It’s also been found that bounty hunters are much more successful at finding those who have skipped bail or fled than the local police; all of which is at no cost to the public. If money bail is barred, more defendants will fail to appear in court, resulting in taxpayers paying the price.
The Ban of Bail Bond Advertising is a Political Decision
Because Google is a private company, they have every right to ban certain advertisements from their platform. However, it is clear that their decision to ban bail bond advertisements is politically motivated in order to gain the support of companies who have opposition to the use of these types of businesses.
It can be argued that every time Google, or any other private platform, acts with political interest, it invites regulation and political control, when its true job is to provide an open and neutral service to all ethical business dealings.
Even a few days in jail can cost someone their job, home, or custody of a child. Why would you take that chance when there are viable options available to those in that position, such as employing a bonds agent to post your bail quickly and get you home sooner?
There are noticeable benefits for the existence of bail bond companies, even though Google and Facebook have said otherwise through their ban of advertisements. Bail bonds are oftentimes the only option for arrestees. Taking away their ability to find a way to help them get out of this position – an inherent right – is just wrong and doesn’t fix anything.
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