The Modern-Day Attack on Bail Bond Agencies – In May of 2018, Google announced that they would be prohibiting ads relating to bail bond services from all of their platforms. This announcement caused shock and anger amongst many businesses and individuals.
Google has characterized bail bond ads as “deceptive and harmful”, and has therefore taken it upon themselves to keep these ads from reaching the people that may need them most.
The decision comes with the backing of both large and wealthy groups and organizations, such as Koch Industries, Color of Change, the Essie Justice Group, and many other civil and human rights organizations. These organizations believe that the bail bond services sector has preyed upon communities of color and low-income neighborhoods through the use of “opaque financing offers” that keep people in debt for months or years.
We’re here to tell you that the services bail bond agencies offer are not the source of the problem, and banning these ads does not provide a convincing solution. Here’s why:
The Courts Set the Bonds, Not the Bondsman
The judge uses bail as a tool for cases in which it is uncertain whether or not the defendant is likely to appear again in court. Those who are deemed to be a high flight risk and are facing serious charges are usually detained without bond. Then there are those with low flight risk who may be released on their own recognizance or a small personal bond. So what happens to the large population of people in between?
The bail system provides a solution to those people in that “middle ground”. If resources to pay bonds are taken away, it is then up to the judge to determine whether or not to release the defendant or keep them incarcerated. Many judges would probably err on the side of caution and choose the latter.
If an arrestee who cannot post bail on their own happens to be from a low-income community, then that is exactly the market a bail bond company is meant to serve. Their purpose is to provide a solution for those who need it most.
What’s the Replacement?
So far, California is the only state to have eliminated cash bail. They have since replaced it with a pre-trial service based on the use of bail algorithm scores and judges’ decisions. This algorithm includes factors such as age, current charges, criminal history, and failure to appear record. It has been criticized, however, for the factors it lacks to consider like employment status, substance abuse history, or the conditions behind the arrest.
Many who initially supported this law have since ended up opposing the final version, suspecting that it would actually result in leading to more people sitting in jail.
This “solution” clearly has its flaws, as well. So was the move by California to ban cash bail really an improvement?
Now, you may be thinking, “What about the other forms of bail or jail time like electronic home monitoring?” To think that these alternative forms do not result in substantial costs to defendants as well is unreasonable. If you’re to be suspicious about the mercenary motives of providers in the justice system, instead look towards probation, electronic monitoring, and jail phone-call providers, of which you do not get to pick and choose.
But, Google isn’t worried about banning ads from these companies, considering all those service providers need to do is convince law-enforcement for their business.
Who Actually “Profits”?
In Google’s statement announcing their ban of bail bond ads, they stated the decision was a response to “all those in the private sector who profit off of mass incarceration.” The civil and human rights groups behind the support of this ban like to portray the institution of bail bonds as being controlled by Wall Street tycoons, when in reality it is, more often than not, family-run businesses that provide these services.
Many vastly overestimate the size and influence of the privatized prison sector. John Pfaff, a Fordham law professor and author of “Locked In”, said that “even if private prisons were banned tomorrow and all their inmates released, the prison population would drop by, at most, 8 percent.” He also pointed out that public-sector beneficiaries of incarceration actually reap more from the current system than do private prison firms.
Penalizing All for the Mistakes of Few
This decision to ban bail bond ads goes to show that even companies like Google can be compelled to pacify pressure groups. Is Google simply trying to stay in the good graces of powerful reform groups focusing on the sensitive topics of today’s society? Maybe so. Either way, it’s clear that through this decision, they’ve joined the movement working towards the long-term goal of abolishing the entire bail industry altogether.
The objective of reliable bondsmen is not to cheat or deceive customers out of their money. Rather, it is to provide an avenue in which to get your loved one out of jail as fast as possible. Just as with any contract signed between two parties, as long as the terms are not broken, both parties will benefit.
So, to say that bond agencies keep people in debt is something we would have to disagree with. As long as the terms of the release are met, no money will be lost and full bail (minus any fee collected by the bond agency) is returned to the client. For more information on how bail bonds work click here.
If you or a loved one find yourself needing to hire a bail bonds agent, know that you have options available to you.
Call Big Fish Bail Bonds at (316) 262-4100 for quick and helpful assistance.
Available 24/7 and serving the Wichita, Kansas and surrounding areas!