Bail Reform System in Texas
You may have heard about the bail reform in Texas, but what is bail reform and what does it entail? The bail bond reform in Texas proposes that jails only be used to detain those who present genuine safety risks to the public, while allowing all others to be released on personal recognizance bonds as they await trial. Those in favor of it believe it’ll be a fairer system for defendants who can’t afford to bail themselves out. Those against it believe that pre-trail release decreases public safety, increases the crime rate, deceases accountability, and costs taxpayers a lot of money to fund the program. That’s why it’s important to look at the bigger picture. Currently with the paid bail system in place, there are many cost-effective options to help these citizens without adding more risk to the general public. To see how effective bail reform is at saving Texas citizens money, keep on reading.
Cost to House an Inmate in Texas
One of the main concerns of those in favor of bail reform services is the cost incurred by the state when housing inmates. Often times, prisons are heavily populated with pre-trial detainees—all whom cost the government money to be housed there. One point in favor of bail reform is that since it’ll release low-risk defendants, there will be less detainees to feed, clothe, and shelter, thus saving the state a ton of money. But how much can bail reform really save for the state?
Depending on the specific state, it can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 per year to house inmates in federal and state correctional facilities. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons reported in 2010 that the average cost per inmate came in at approximate $28,284. Considering that a large portion of inmates in jails across the country are those awaiting trial, bail reform could potentially save states a considerable amount.
There is also the point that many defendants awaiting trial are unable to come up with the money needed to post bail on their own. In some cases, families need to put up their cars or houses as collateral to afford a bail bond. Those in favour of bail reform believe that this is unfair and see it as a cash grab from bail bondsmen.
Cost of Pre-Trial Release Programs
While those in favor of bail reform like to emphasize the point that it’s costly to keep people in jail before they’ve been found guilty, we must also consider the role that bail bondsmen play in the process. Right now, bail bondsmen absorb the cost of bail for defendants until they’re paid back, but if a pre-trial release agency were to provide the same services, there would be a much higher cost per defendant release—a cost that would be covered by the money of taxpayers.
Consider this: If the state of Texas were to release defendants based on their own personal recognizance, who will be funding this pre-trial release program? It actually costs quite a bit to fund the program, and it ends up falling on taxpayers to do so. In Tarrant County, the budget for pre-trial release is about $1.3 million. If you divide that number by the number of people who were released under pre-trial release, it totals about $500. That’s $500 the court is paying for each defendant to be released for “free”. Not only is this costly, but there is also the issue of liability. Those against bail reform argue that once a defendant has been released for free, no one is there to ensure the defendant actually shows up for their court dates, and should the defendant jump bail, the court has to pay to issue warrants for their arrest. This results in more money being spent by taxpayers. Thus, while states may save money on the cost of housing inmates with the bail reform in place, taxpayers will be burdened instead.
Meanwhile, when a defendant seeks out the services of a bail bondsman, they only charge a percentage of the bail amount. This fee ends up being about half the amount the courts are spending to release the defendant for “free”. A bail bondsman can get the defendant released so they won’t need to spend unnecessary time in county jails, monitor the defendant while on bail, and ensure that they show up in court for their trial date.
Turn to PCS Bail Bonds for Effective Bail Bond Services in Tarrant County, Texas
With the current system in place, everyone has options to get out of jail while they await trial—just call PCS Bail Bonds. We offer affordable and fast services, and accept a variety of different payments, as well as collateral. We know that being arrested can be an unsettling process and that you’ll want to get out as soon as possible, which is why we work to make our services as fast and cost effective for everyone—in fact, our fees are 10% lower than the competition. For more information on our fast and affordable bail bond options, contact us today.
Photo Credit: istock.com/Kesu01
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