In Bail Bonds, Commercial Bail Bonds

The Justice Policy Institute and the Pretrial Justice Institute are the most significant and influential organizations in support of the elimination of a commercial bail industry. Their arguments include “distortion of judicial decision-making”, “significant costs to tax payers”, “financial influence of elected officials via contributions”, and “discrimination of low income defendants”.  (Justice Policy Institute (1), 2012) (Justice Policy Institute (2), 2012) (Jones, 2013)

Though the Justice Policy Institute and the Pretrial Justice Institute provides argument against the bail industry, and urges for the elimination of the commercial bail bond industry, their information, in fact, supports the commercial bail industry when looking at the information they provide, categorized appropriately.  The research conducted by the Justice Policy Institute focuses on failure to appear rates, recommit crime rates (pretrial misconduct) and jail population sizes.

They categorize a secured release option as a defendant placing cash with an entity for the purpose of release; while unsecured is categorized as a noncash option of release, for example: GPS monitoring or a promise to appear. In their respective studies, the Justice Policy Institute fails to separate commercial bail and cash bail paid directly to courts, which gives an inaccurate account for success of either program.  (Justice Policy Institute (1), 2012) (Justice Policy Institute (2), 2012)

The Justice Policy Institute does an excellent job in identifying the current issues facing the commercial bail industry at a national level, and does identify recommendations for reform that are universally agreed upon by the commercial bail industry. These recommendations include transparency and full statistical data reporting by all States as well as courts and pretrial service organizations working together.

The research conducted by Michael R. Jones of the Pretrial Release Institute provides factual definitions and established the differences between a secured bond through a bondsman and an unsecured bond by posting cash options to the courts or release on a promise to appear. It is this study that shows there is no immediate difference initially when it comes to public safety and secured versus unsecured bonds. The summary of Mr. Jones’s work: “Unsecured Bonds: The As Effective And Most Efficient Pretrial Release Options” indicates that when looking at public safety, secured and unsecured options of bail had no legal impact on a defendants criminal behavior. (Jones, 2013)

Part 2 of 2 will be published September 14th, 2015.


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Cited Sources


Jones, M. R. (2013). Unsecured Bonds: The As Effective And Most Efficient Pretrial Release Option.

Justice Policy Institute (1). (2012, September). Bail Fail: Why the U.S. should end the practice of using money for bail. Washington, DC: Justice Policy Institute.

Justice Policy Institute (2). (2012, September). For Better or For Profit: How the bail bonding industry stands in the way of fair and effective pretrial justice. Washington, DC: Justice Policy Institute.

Mary T. Phillips, P. (2011). Project Director and Deputy Director. New York City Criminal Justice Agency, Inc., Reasearch Department. Jerome E. . Retrieved from

Tabarrok, E. H. (2004, April). Public Versus Private Law Enforcement: Evidence From Bail Jumping. The

Journal of Law & Economics.

Thomas H. Cohen, P. a. (1990-2004). Pretrial Release of Felony Defendants in State Courts. U.S. Department of Justice; Office of Justice Programs.