On Los Angeles’s Bail Row – a trash-blown block where the competition is as cutthroat as it gets, corruption investigations have targeted companies that offer bail services, reports the Los Angeles Times. About a dozen bond offices on Bail Row are lined shoulder to shoulder in a mini-mall and a stretch of neighboring storefronts. They sit across the street from the Men’s Central and Twin Towers jails.
The nation’s largest local penal system is a 24-hour-a-day gold mine for the bail sellers. The Times says they “engage in a kind of urban combat for every dollar.” “It’s really a dirty business,” said Bertha Comar, owner of Aliso Village Bail Bonds. Bail can be posted without an agent if the court gets the full amount in cash or collateral, like the deed to a house. Most defendants use a bond firm, which normally charges a state-set, nonrefundable 10 percent fee.