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: Characteristics and Implications

NCJ Number
Mary T. Phillips, Ph.D.
Date Published
April 2011
74 pages
This update and expansion of a recent study of bail making in New York City presents supplementary bond data for all four of the largest boroughs and expands the analyses to consider the implications for bail setting suggested by the citywide data.
The previous study found that bail bondsmen play a much larger role in New York City than they once did. The study found commercial bonds accounted for 15 percent of all bail releases in the study sample, and 21 percent of cases with bail set at $1,000 or more. The study's report presented data that indicated just over 750 commercial bonds were posted in the 4 largest boroughs of the City for cases with an arrest from July through September 2005. The term "commercial bond" refers to an insurance company bail bond written by a commercial bond agent. The current update and expanded study explains the forms of bail in New York City and reviews prior research on bail bonds in New York City. An overview is also provided of the national context for the commercial bail bond industry in America. New York City apparently reflects the national trend toward greater use of commercial bonds. This is a trend that is viewed with alarm by many in the pretrial justice field. The arguments against commercial bonds are many, and the American Bar Association (ABA) has been making them for almost 50 years. The characteristics and adverse consequences for defendants of commercial bail bonds are discussed in detail. The focus is on the financial cost of commercial bonds, partly because this aspect of the transaction is most salient for clients and is a major criticism of the bail bond industry. Policy implications address how to reduce the use of commercial bail bonds in New York City. 25 tables, 23 figures, and 28 references


No download available