Why do bail bonds work?

Why do bail bonds work and are they good for society? This is a question many people have started asking over the last few years. They’re wondering whether or not the bail system can be transformed into something else entirely and if bail bonds are even necessary. 

Here’s the deal: the bail system and bail bonds do what they’re intended to do. While everything can obviously be improved upon, the goal of the bail system is achieved time and time again every day in America.

Let’s take a quick look at the top reasons bail bonds work and are good for society (and yes, even people who have been arrested).

Bail gives people another reason to go to court

Bail is typically not cheap, and many people often don’t have the resources readily available to post bail on their own. However, this is done on purpose. Bail needs to be high because it gives people the urgent incentive to go back to court. If they do so, they get their bail money back. If they don’t, they forfeit that money.

Imagine bail being set at something as low as $50 or imagine there being no bail at all. Why would people feel the urgency to attend court? Sure, a warrant for your arrest might be issued — but in some cases, this doesn’t mean much. But losing out on $10,000? That means a lot.

Bail bonds give people the opportunity to post bail

Bail can be viewed as a terrible part of the legal system and as a device that keeps poor people in prison. However, this is far from reality. 

As we just mentioned, how terrible would it be to forfeit $10,000? But what if you can’t afford that $10,000 to begin with? Then you’re stuck in jail while you await trial (which could take several months), and to make matters worse, you could be innocent. 

This is where bail bonds come in.

Bail bonds were created to give people lacking the necessary bail funds to post bail. Even though the bail bond agency is paid a small percentage of the total bail amount, this still beats sitting in a jail cell. 

Plus, the incentive to go to court is still there. In the majority of cases, bail bond companies require co-signers. Co-signers are typically family members or close friends. If you don’t show up to court, that person will be wholly responsible for the full bail amount (not just the percentage initially paid to the bail bond company). 

Long story short, not only does the bail system make it more likely for those arrested to attend court, but the bail system also helps those lacking funds to post bail. So, yes — bail is expensive, but that doesn’t mean only rich people can post it.

The current bail system avoids racial profiling and stereotypes

As it stands, a judge determines what your bail amount will be. They scrutinize your current situation with past behavior to determine your flight risk.

In the past, groups have pushed forward ideas to take away bail and replace it with an algorithm that determines flight risk. Only those that receive a high rating will remain in jail as they await trial. Others can await trial at home. No bail required.

However, what many people don’t understand is that this algorithm will be based on stereotypes and profiling. This will likely only negatively impact underprivileged people. Richer individuals who have never committed a crime openly will be rated as a very low risk, while poorer individuals with even minor stains on their records will be rated as a high risk. 

A judge can use his or her best judgement to compassionately determine flight risk and assign a fair bail amount in the process. An algorithm with no bail required cannot do this.

Want to learn more about the bail bond process?

Check out our additional resources to learn more about bail bond agents and the bail bond process as a whole: