We all have heard that overcrowded jails are growing problem in the United States. Unfortunately as Brian Nairin points out in The Blame Game: When All Else Fails, Blame the Bail Bond Industry article, the wrong party is being charged with causing the problem. With growing inmate populations in jails across the country and less funding for those jails, some would like to use commercial bail bond companies as a convenient scapegoat as the cause jail overcrowding.
One of the most misguided beliefs is that jails are overcrowded because so many inmates are stuck in jail waiting for their trial to begin. According to those who have studied this subject, 70 to 80% of all inmates are awaiting trial in jail due to the fact that they can not afford to shell out money for a bail bondsman. However, experts argument that this is not true.
The study that determined most inmates are in jail waiting for their trial to begin is actually contradicts itself. The JFA Institute studied the overcrowding of jails through Los Angeles County and concluded that around 70% of the prisoners were, in fact, sitting in jail waiting for their trial. The study also determined that many of the 70% of prisoners are being held in a way in which they are not eligible to post bail or have someone post it for them.
For example, many of the prisoners being held in the LA County jails are being held there because they have been declared too violent to be released into society. Taking these circumstances into account means that of all the prisoners in the jails, only 13% of the total population are there because they can not afford to pay a bail bondsman. Thirteen percent of a jail population does not cause overcrowding in any jail facility.
Another fact demonstrating this point is that not all states allow commercial bail bonds. Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Oregon prohibit the use of commercial bail bonding. Why then are these states experiencing higher levels of county jail overpopulation and higher costs to the taxpayers for inmate detention and housing? The JFA study on overcrowded jails seemed to have conveniently overlooked facts such as this in making their concluding.
Since County Jails are primarily used to hold prisoners until their trial starts, then it is obvious that this applies to the majority of prisoners. Blaming bail bonding for causing jail overcrowding is being misrepresented by this type of false information. Those pointing their fingers at bail bond companies for causing overcrowded jails are using the idea to justify the release of prisoners the jail has been designated to hold in the first place.