Friday, February 1, 2008

Bail/Bond And Big Money

Students in 3150 usually have a hard time understanding how corrections and punishment have become big business in the U.S. over the past 25 years or so. This Times article illuminates one of the more desultory aspects of the correctional system and how much money is being made off the uniquely American idea of bail/bond.

Illegal Globally, Bail For Profit Remains in U.S.:

"Other countries almost universally reject and condemn [the bail/bond] trade, in which defendants who are presumed innocent but cannot make bail on their own pay an outsider a nonrefundable fee for their freedom.

“It’s a very American invention,” John Goldkamp, a professor of criminal justice at Temple University, said of the commercial bail bond system. “It’s really the only place in the criminal justice system where a liberty decision is governed by a profit-making businessman who will or will not take your business.”

"Most of the legal establishment, including the American Bar Association and the National District Attorneys Association, hates the bail bond business, saying it discriminates against poor and middle-class defendants, does nothing for public safety, and usurps decisions that ought to be made by the justice system."
The one guy and his company featured in the article floated more than $37 million in bonds in a 35-month period, with the company generating a revenue stream of $1.3 million.

With four states having abolished the practice completely, one wonders whether the commercial bail/bond system is really the only alternative. And is it right to make hundreds of millions of dollars off the backs of poor and working-class defendants.

No comments: