Tarrant County Bail Bond Specialists

How Does the COVID-19 Pandemic Affect Bail Bonds?

\"\"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy and a number of business sectors is unmistakable. Bail bonds, which is a two-billion-dollar industry in the United States, is just one of many industries that has suffered immense losses with many companies being forced to lay off the majority of their staff. Out of the darkness comes some light, though. At the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the bail bonds industry is the fact that it’s managed to shed a massive spotlight on the merits of prison sentencing and incarceration conditions, which has been a major point of contentious debate in the U.S. for many years.

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Prison Settings in the U.S.?

Prisons and jails are enclosed tight spaces that often house hundreds to thousands of inmates at any given time for a variety of crimes ranging from minor misdemeanors to felonies.

According to one study conducted by the Prison Policy Initiative, approximately 2.3 million people are currently incarcerated in the United States Justice System. Local jails, which are considered the gateway to incarceration, currently hold approximately 631,000 people across the U.S. 74% of these individuals have yet to be convicted of a crime but are awaiting trial because they can’t afford to post bail or to hire a bail bonds company or agent.

The pandemic has only exacerbated financial constraints for these individuals and their families, making it increasingly difficult to post bail.

Due to overpopulation, prison inmates are typically forced to live in close quarters with at least one other person or multiple people because of space limitations. It’s no secret that the prison system has been overpopulated for years. It’s been argued that mass incarceration and overcrowding are directly linked to mandatory minimum sentencing for minor crimes, which is the main reason people are calling for prison and justice system reform in the U.S.

As a result of overcrowding combined with lack of hygienic supplies like soap and hand sanitizers, jails and prisons have become a major hotbed for the spread of COVID-19 amongst both prisoners and staff members.

A Controversial Solution: Reducing Incarceration Numbers

Scientists and healthcare professionals have been urging people to maintain social and physical distancing to minimize the spread of the virus. But it’s impossible to maintain physical or social distancing standards in overpopulated prisons and jails where inmates are forced to share intimate spaces with their cellmates.

Hence, the federal government made the controversial decision to attempt to reduce the prison population as much as possible over the course of the pandemic. Other precautions that are being recommended by healthcare professionals, such as frequent hand washing and sanitizing, are also difficult to adhere to due to the limited resources prisons have. Many inmates don’t have access to a steady supply of soap and water, which makes it difficult to maintain good hygiene practices even during normal times, let alone when there’s an ongoing health crisis.

Then there’s the fact that prisoners aren’t the primary people that are bringing the virus onto the premises. Prison guards, police officers, attorneys, investigators, and other official personnel that regularly use the premises carry the biggest risk of spreading the virus within their work and personal environments.

To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus within the prison and justice system, government officials have decided to reduce the number of inmates in the prison system by finding alternate ways for inmates with minor misdemeanor charges to serve their sentences (e.g. house arrest). Where possible, some trials are even being held via remote videoconferences rather than in person. The hope is that lessening the prison inmate population will result in fairer sentencing in the future and minimize the risk of inmates and justice system workers from spreading the virus to their friends and families.

To further reduce the number of inmates sharing a single prison cell, law enforcement officials are also being encouraged to issue more citations or fines for minor misdemeanors rather than arrests. This is also beneficial because it helps relieve some of the strains that are already burdening the justice system, such as overpopulation and providing basic supplies to crowded prisons.

Serious crimes like felonies still warrant an arrest and detention pending trial, but these aren’t nearly as common as minor misdemeanors.

What Are the Effects on the Bail Bonds Industry Due to COVID-19?

Like every other business that’s been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the bail bonds industry in the United States has taken a huge financial hit as a direct result.

Bail bonds companies have been forced to lay off employees due to lack of work and lockdown restrictions in some areas. Texas, California, and Florida have the largest bail bonds markets based on sheer population alone. But the percentage of people who are able to obtain these vital services has decreased significantly due to financial restraints.

Many people in the bail bonds industry agree that people being held for minor misdemeanors and petty crimes that don’t have human victims or aren’t a threat to the people around them should be temporarily released without bail while the pandemic is ongoing.

Another direct effect of the pandemic on local criminal justice systems is that it’s forcing officials to take a detailed inventory of all of the suspects that are currently being held in local jails and why—something that wasn’t common practice until recently. Whether or not this is a step in the right direction is up for debate and must be determined on a case-by-case basis. It’s up to local law enforcement officials to determine whether a certain person accused of a crime is too much of a threat to public safety to be temporarily released with or without bail while they await trial.

Low-risk inmates with minor misdemeanor charges or those awaiting trial are likely to be released without bail under strict restrictions. Breach of these restrictions will result in re-imprisonment, in which case a skilled bail bondsperson is needed.

Just because the need for bail bonds services has decreased, that doesn’t mean they’re completely obsolete. If someone you know has been charged with a crime and is being held in a county jail or detention center awaiting trial, it’s important to get them released quickly to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. PCS Bail Bonds provides expert bail bonds services in Fort Worth, Texas. Contact us today if you have any questions or need our services.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.