Monday, April 2, 2018

The Extortion of the Bail/Bond Racket

When Bail Feels Less Like Freedom, More Like Extortion:

As commercial bail has grown into a $2 billion industry, bond agents have become the payday lenders of the criminal justice world, offering quick relief to desperate customers at high prices. When clients like Mr. Egana cannot afford to pay the bond company’s fee to get them out, bond agents simply loan them the money, allowing them to go on a payment plan.

But bondsmen have extraordinary powers that most lenders do not. They are supposed to return their clients to jail if they skip court or do something illegal. But some states give them broad latitude to arrest their clients for any reason — or none at all. A credit card company cannot jail someone for missing a payment. A bondsman, in many instances, can.
Using that leverage, bond agents can charge steep fees, some of which are illegal, with impunity, according to interviews and a review of court records and complaint data. They can also go far beyond the demands of other creditors by requiring their clients to check in regularly, keep a curfew, allow searches of their car or home at any time, and open their medical, Social Security and phone records to inspection.
If you click on the link to the article, you'll see my comments (a NYT Editor's pick) regarding how this sick industry is a uniquely American phenomenon. In no other country in the world do you have these parasitic middle men scamming the poor and providing a "service" the courts are clearly capable of handling themselves.

Also, I've written on and off about this for over a decade now on this blog. 

You can read the various hard luck stories the Times documents, but they are nothing new in this sense. Bail/Bond companies have been scamming the poor for decades in this country, and like any good leech or insect, is proving damn difficult to kill off and get rid of.

But states have it within their rights to abolish private bail/bond with a simple stroke of the legislative pen. And until governmental leaders get behind the movement to abolish private bail/bond, nothing will ever change for those who have the least among us.

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