In Bail Bonds, Commercial Bail Bonds

Publicly run pretrial release programs have been implemented in States such as Wisconsin, Illinois, Oregon and Kentucky; following the elimination of commercial bail bonds.  The result in these States has been a significant increase in FTA’s over the years as a result of defendants no longer facing a firm accountability to return to court. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has clearly presented these findings, and was best interpreted by Michael J. Whitlock, Executive Vice President for American Surety.

In Mr. Whitlock’s October 22nd, 2012 article “Crime Increases Nationally”, he describes in great detail how the new Bureau of Justice Statistics data for the year of 2011 clearly show that with more public intervention, restrictions, reform, and further implementation of publicly operated pretrial release programs, crime has been on a rise and the accountability of a defendant to return to court has decreased. It is in this article that Michael Whitlock summarizes his professional belief “In my view the alarming increase in violent crimes is due, in part, to the departure by many courts across the country from guaranteeing the appearance in court of criminal defendants with a bail bond.” (Whitlock, 2012).

When a defendant is released on a pretrial release program, it is with a promise to reappear to court and to be placed on a non-restrictive or restrictive supervision program. These restrictive programs have included GPS monitoring, pretrial supervision/reporting, drug testing, house arrest, chemical dependency treatment and various other options. At times, in these instances, the courts can order for a defendant to pay 10% of what would normally have been the face value of the bail directly to the courts/jail. If, for whatever reason, a defendant fails to appear or violates a term of release while released on one of these programs, the defendant will have a warrant issued and that warrant will need to be served by the law enforcement of the State/County at the expense of the public.

Often, a law enforcement agency will not have the resources to devote to investigating the whereabouts of every defendant that has absconded on their pretrial release programs. This is especially relevant to the defendants that have been charged with anything but a felony. Typically when a cash bail and/or cash payment made to the court/jail is forfeited, it is disbursed to a general fund of the County/State.

Unfortunately, without the resources going into the locating and apprehension of these defendants, they are free to continue to run in the public until they are found by a law enforcement officers while in the course of regular duty. This only further jeopardizes the safety of our communities, further harms the perceptions of the Criminal Justice Systems that participate in these programs, and builds a greater financial burden against the tax payer. (Tabarrok, 2004)


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Cited Sources


Melanie Ledgerwood, D. o. (2012, October). Facts Regarding The Commercial Bail Industry. Orlando, Florida. Retrieved from

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

Whitlock, M. J. (2012, October 22). MCBA Executive Vice President – American Surety. Crime Increases Nationally, p. 1. Retrieved from