What is surety bail?
Bail bond companies allow defendants to pay their bail bond amount up front, and break down return payments into smaller, more manageable increments. A defendant pays a bail bond in order to return to their community until their trial begins. In cases where the defendants cannot raise the bail through his or her personal finances or friends and family, a bail company puts up the bail for a fee (usually 10 percent). If the defendant flees, the bond agency is responsible for paying the entirety of the bail amount to the court.
The bail industry supports thousands of small bail bond companies around the country—many minority and female owned. These companies can only operate if they are insured by national commercial insurance companies, or surety companies. Unlike a traditional insurance agreement, surety bonds are a three-party agreement involving the defendant, the obligee (government body or court) and the surety agent.
Surety agents and surety companies are closely regulated by both local state and federal laws and monitored by the State Department of Insurance.
What is a surety agent?
A surety agent, traditionally known as a bail bondsman, works with defendants and their families to evaluate repayment schedules, provide a variety of pretrial services and ensure that all conditions of bail are met. If the defendant fails to appear in court, surety agents have the freedom and flexibility to pursue dangerous fugitives across state borders and bring them to justice.
What services does a surety agent provide?
Bail exists in a little-known part of the criminal justice system called pretrial services. When a defendant makes bail and purchases his or her bond, it may come with conditions of release. These conditions, set by the judge, may be tied to keeping steady employment, passing drug or alcohol screenings or abiding by home detention standards. When this happens, surety agents monitor and assist the accused to ensure he or she complies with all conditions and arrives for his or her day in court.
Some of the pretrial services surety agents provide include:
· Drug/Alcohol Screening
· Resources for Drug/Alcohol Treatment
· Counsel on the Conditions of Bail
· Home Monitoring
· Employment Verification
How does bail benefit the criminal justice system?
Bail protects the criminal justice system by protecting taxpayers, victims and defendants.
Surety Bail protects taxpayers because it doesn’t rely on taxpayer dollars to get the job done. Surety agents are able to help defendants make bail, offer pretrial services and return fugitives to justice at a cost much lower than government-funded programs. And, the system relies on assessments done through personal interviews and on-the-job experience rather than proprietary risk assessment algorithms that cost taxpayers millions.
Surety agents protects victims by requiring regular communication with clients and their support systems and through the freedom, flexibility and resources, unlike law enforcement, to conduct home visits and interviews—ensuring that conditions of bail, like protective orders, are met. And, in the event of a violation, surety agents use that freedom and flexibility to immediately take action and apprehend the defendant, keeping the defendant from further harming the community.
Surety agents protects defendants by working directly with judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys to build conditions of bail that protect defendants from further incrimination. Surety agents provide counsel on the confusing pre-trial process and keep a record of behavior while awaiting trial. Agents often go above and beyond for their clients, providing resources to find employment, relocate or fight addiction, whatever it takes to get them to their day in court.
What is United Bail of America?
United Bail of America is a group made up surety agents across the country who want a larger voice in the national discourse on bail reform. Our agents represent a growing concern over the future of the commercial bail industry and the safety of our criminal justice system. We work to correct misinformation and bias in the media while encouraging common sense reform rooted in fact.
How can I become a member of United Bail of America?
You can become a member of United Bail of America by filling out the form on our website.
What does bail reform entail?
The bail system is not perfect and reforms to any system are necessary over time. However, reformers are reluctant to comprise, instead advocating for the complete elimination of cash bail for non-violent misdemeanors – offenses that can include reckless driving and terroristic threats. Recently, courts have been relying on risk assessment tools to determine a defendant’s likelihood to reoffend, danger to the community and flight risk. These algorithms are proprietary, meaning the public isn’t privy to the “science” behind how certain factors are weighted.
Who is advocating for bail reform?
Criminal justice reform groups, like the Vera Institute, and advocacy groups, like the American Civil Liberties Union, are the biggest proponents of reform, claiming the bail system criminalizes the poor and minorities.
Additionally, billionaires, like the George Zoros, have backed political candidates who run on the promise of eliminating bail if elected. Mark Zuckerberg and the Koch brothers have partnered with Google to ban bail bond ads on digital platforms.
Who is fighting bail reform?
United Bail of America, the American Bail Coalition and surety companies across the U.S. are working to educate people about the consequences of eliminating the bail system.
What is United Bail of America’s position on bail reform?
United Bail of America recognizes that certain criminal justice reforms are necessary, including increased treatment alternatives for drug offenders, sentencing reductions, educational programming, improved re-entry services, restored rights after a time limit and speedier trials. But, eliminating the bail-bond system is not a relevant addition to this list.
The bail-bond system and surety agents protect the state by keeping the burden of funding pretrial services off the backs of taxpayers; protect citizens by making sure the accused comply with the conditions of bail and face the court; and protect the accused by providing counsel and support during what can be a confusing and trying time.