Across the country, bail bond companies are up in revolt, fighting back against states’ efforts to rethink and overhaul an antiquated money bail system, CNN reports. Corrections officials, jail runners, judges, public defenders, civil rights groups and bipartisan leaders alike agree that the system in place that handles the presumed innocent is broken.
As structured, the bail bonds industry survives largely off those who don’t have the financial resources to post bail. Overwhelmingly, the service of a bail bondsman is their only way out of jail. Reform efforts across the country seek to make the bail system less burdensome on the poor. The majority of states addressing the issue are trying to make money bail the last resort, by mandating that judges apply the “least onerous release conditions possible” and consider the defendant’s ability to pay, as well as eliminating money bail for low-level charges. As a result, the $2-billion-a-year bail bonds industry is in a fight for its very survival. A CNN review of all 50 states and the District of Columbia found that the powerful industry has derailed, stalled or killed reform efforts in at least nine states, which combined cover more than one-third of the country’s population.