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Public Bail - A National Disaster?

NCJ Number
G P Monks
Date Published
15 pages
Public bail has numerous deficiencies in comparison to private bail, particularly its lack of a means to ensure appearance in court or the collection of bail.
Release on recognizance is the most common form of public bail. A deposit system has also been used. Private bail bonds include cash bail put up by the defendants and commercial bail bonds, in which bail bond agents guarantee the defendant's appearance in court or payment of the bond forfeiture. Personal recognizance systems are expensive. Rates of failing to appear in court are also much higher for public bail than for private bail. A commercial surety company cannot make a profit and stay in business if it allows more than a 2-percent rate of failing to appear. As a result, these companies work hard to ensure defendants' appearances. They can cross State lines easily to locate defendants and can also exert pressure on relatives of the defendants. Commercial agents are licensed and carefully regulated. In contrast, public bail relies on the overworked police to locate defendants who fail to appear. It also fails to address the issue of indigency and to reduce jail populations. In Federal courts, inconsistencies in decisions regarding denial of bail are a further problem. Private bail is the only system that provides accountability for the defendant's appearance in court. 25 references.