U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Commercial Bail Bonds in New York City

NCJ Number
Mary T. Phillips, Ph.D.
Date Published
May 2011
7 pages
After presenting citywide data for New York City that describe characteristics of bail bond agents, insurance companies, and co-signers, this study uses the findings to develop a tool (the "effective cash discount") that would enable the courts to set cash alternatives for bail at a level that would remove the financial incentive for posting a bond rather then cash; and it would be tailored to the borough and bond amount.
In New York City, one in five bail releases for cases with bail set at $1,000 or more involve commercial bonds. Defendants buy bonds because the amount of cash required up front can be considerably less than would be needed to post cash bail. The drawback in using commercial bonds, however, is that they are more expensive in the long run, because cash bail is refunded; in addition, bondsmen can revoke the bond at any time without giving the courts a reason, consequently sending the defendant to jail. The proposed alternative policy for facilitating bail making in cash is called the "effective cash discount." It could reduce reliance on bondsmen by enabling defendants to post cash bail instead. The cash alternative would be no larger than the up-front cost of the bond for at least four out of five cases. The research showed that a 60-percent discount would suffice for bail under $10,000; for higher bail, 70 percent would be required in Brooklyn and Queens. An additional recommendation is that the use of partially secured bail bonds be considered. The financial advantage of a bond would be eliminated for virtually all cases if the defendant needed to raise only 10 percent of the bail amount. Other recommendations offered are designed to facilitate defendants making cash bail, thus reducing the appeal of commercial bail bonds compared to cash bail. 13 figures


No download available