Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bail Bondsman: County Taxpayer's Best Friend

In light of the ongoing studies of jail overcrowding in Harris County and the evaluation of the functions of the private-sector bail system, it is important to understand the facts. The commercial bonding system is remarkably effective at what it does. Bail is meant to make sure defendants show up for trial court appearances. The system since the 1800s in America allowed private business to post bail in exchange for payments from the defendants and the promise that they find the defendants and return them if they failed to appear. The private bail system costs taxpayers nothing, and it is effective at ensuring that defendants appear for court. Currently, there is another entity involved in bonds, the taxpayer-funded pretrial release.

Last year, around 45,000 defendants were bonded out of the Harris County Jail by licensed commercial bail bondsmen. Bondsmen are solely responsible for every one of their defendants' court appearances. Whenever a defendant misses court, bondsmen work hard to return their defendants back to court as soon as possible because they are financially liable for the bond. Should a bondsman fail to return a defendant within time limits set by state law, Harris County requires them to pay 100 percent of the bond amount plus costs of court, interest and rearrest fees.

Licensed bondsmen have a 98.5 percent success ratio for their defendants' timely appearances in court. This ensures that the courts move their dockets along in a timely manner. Last year, licensed bondsmen in Harris County paid about $5 million out of the face value of citizens in private-sector bond of $315 million, which is less than a 1.5 percent failure rate.

Read more here and be sure to check out and subscribe to our free bi-weekly newsletter, The Bail Report, for more news, upcoming events and more!

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