Senators take aim at bail industry’s insurers

    bail bonds
    "What you need" by Renee is licensed under CC BY 2.0
    bail bonds
    “What you need” by Renee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Last Friday, Sen. Cory Booker D-N.J., and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio sent a letter to 22 insurance companies requesting details of their finance and their relationship with the bail bond agents they underwrite, reported the Marshall Project.

    The letter includes a series of questions asking for information on how the insurance companies are monitoring for abuse and legal violations and the firm’s willingness to consider affirmative steps to end relations with bond agents accused of abusive practices.

    “We are concerned that many of our nation’s insurance companies may be pursuing profits at the expense of economic security for vulnerable families and the goals of public safety,” wrote the senators.

    Citing recent studies and investigative reporting that suggests that the bail industry is rife with abusive practices that harm low-income clients, the senators asked corporate insurers to disclose details of their “largely hidden” role in the commercial bail system.

    Several states have limited cash bail through laws, constitutional amendment or rules of criminal procedure, according to the Marshall Project. New Jersey has essentially ended cash bail since 2017.

    In a related item, a federal judge in New Orleans recently struck down the cash bail system.

    In Nevada, activists hope to convince the Legislature to reform the bail system by requiring judges to consider house arrest, diversion programs and other alternatives cash bail.

    Jeniffer Solis
    Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.

    7 COMMENTS

    1. After reading article after article on this, since New Jersey ended cash bail, crime has risen approx. 13% there and the police don’t know what to do, which is not mentioned in your article. There are countless stories of people being released without bail that have repeatedly committed crimes knowing they’ll be out in a matter of a few hours. Like the guy arrested for DUI in GA and 3 hours later was drunk again, ran over a mom and 2 kids walking, killed the baby, or the guy released (no bail) for Open Murder in NM, didn’t go to court, was rearrested (while committing a new crime) released again with no bail.
      Why should someone be let out of jail with no consequence? They wouldn’t even be there with out probable cause. CCDC is currently releasing people with charges from, assault, trafficking, robbery… etc… just check names and look them up in the court system and see how many are out with NO bail.
      At least the bondsman who has this person on their bond is liable to make sure the accused goes to court and it’s no money out of the public’s pocket to finance this.
      Yes the traffic ticket people I agree should be let out, those are not criminal charges.
      Being a minority woman and understanding the plight of being of color thing, I STILL DON’T think it’s fair to release these people with NO consequence.

      • The problem with bail is that it doesn’t actually solve for any of the problems you describe. In the status quo, plenty of people post bail and then immediately go out and commit more crimes. Bail doesn’t screen for danger or likelihood to reoffend; it just screens for wealth. It’s unfair that a dangerous rich person can get out of jail but a non-dangerous poor person can’t. That’s why we need to abolish bail.

        The other thing is, nobody is saying “abolish bail and that’s it, end of story.” The point of abolishing bail is to replace it with a screening process that’s based on factors that actually matter (like future danger or likelihood to flee). Instead of lazy judges just setting bail at an arbitrary number, there should be a screening process that looks at whether a given person is likely to do something bad again. This would make us a lot safer than the current bail system does.

        • I should say, “bail doesn’t do a good job of screening for danger or likelihood to reoffend.” Judges are supposed to consider those factors, but they’re typically lazy and just set the same bail for every misdemeanor or D felony or whatever. And when they do make a more individualized assessment, a lot of the time it’s based on “am I going to get bad press from letting this person out” – which is not always related to the person’s dangerousness or likelihood of reoffending.

        • Bail is set simply to ensure appearance for all court dates. It should never be set in an attempt to protect public safety. Only one thing will ensure public safety; keep the person locked up. Our constitution does not allow this except capital offenses.
          The incentive behind bail is the same as it is in any business. Profit and loss. Attend all court dates and your bail is returned (less any fines and fees) if the full amount is posted with a court. If a person cannot afford the full amount, a bondsman can be used (in most states) to post the full amount on behalf of the accused for a fee of typically 10% of the full amount.
          Do not confuse bail with public safety.

    2. This town is overrun by shootings, home invasions, murders, attempted murders, and many other violent crimes. I live here in Las Vegas and have children to raise. I read the paper each day and watch the news each night. Nothing but crime. Letting criminals out without posting cash bail is a big mistake. It’s already evident in the burglaries and robberies in casinos (smash and grabs at high end jewelry stores) where people come here from California to commit these crimes because our system is a joke. For instance, an arrest for robbery with a deadly weapon in California would potentially have a $100,000 (or higher) bond. Here in Nevada, it’s only $10,000. So if I’m a criminal from California, I know I only have to pay 15% of $10,000 or better yet, possibly be released without security…Well then, I’m going to choose Nevada in which to pursue my criminal enterprise.

    3. By releasing inmates without security clauses several issues.
      1. You send a message that you can come to Nevada, terrorize our community, our places of work, our homes and we won’t punish you.
      2. By eradicating cash bail, you push 100% of all of the responsibilities on to the (already underfunded) state. Meaning; more pre-trial officers needed, then more house arrest/parole and probation officers to monitor people throughout the pendency of their cases. Then you will need to take away the police force from protecting the community in order to hunt down and bring the criminals back to jail when they abscond from justice…then release them again?
      3. If the argument is to place them on a mandatory ankle monitors/house arrest, this too is problematic. For starters, if you’re homeless or if you have a domestic violence situation and can’t go home, how can you place them on house arrest? Also, ankle monitors are a racket. Say the average case lasts 1 year to make it’s way through finalization, at $300 per month, that’s $3,600 they would pay to be out of jail. That’s the equivalent to what they would pay a bondsman for a $54,000 bond. So the argument that most people are being held in jail with $5,000 bail or less seems like you’d be taking advantage of these “poor criminals” because in the case of a $5,000 bail, they would only have to pay a bondsman $750. You’re charging them almost $500% more.

    4. The truth is, bonds companies risk their money (which the courts make A LOT from forfeitures) while only charging 15% to bail them, babysit them and make sure they go to court.

      The truth is, when there is a bondsman involved, criminals are more likely to remain trouble free while the case is open.

      The truth is, when a bondsman is involved, a criminal case is more likely to be closed in court and not remain open as a WARRANT for years and years and years.

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