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Bail Month 2014 - BAIL FACT #12: Jail Overcrowding is NOT Caused by the Commercial Bail Industry

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bail fact #12 2014One of the most common criticisms that opponents of commercial bail use against the industry is that it is the cause of jail overcrowding.  They say that people are languishing away in jail because they can't afford to pay for a bail bond.  While this argument seems like it could be true, it is absolutely false.  Jail populations are not stagnant and growing because of the commercial bail bond industry.  If anything, the commercial bail industry is the most effective and responsible way to manage pretrial jail populations. 

In 2012, the JFA Institute conducted a study of the Los Angeles County Jail.  This study was supported by the public sector pretrial community and funded by the ACLU.  The hypothesis being tested by the study was that the jails were overcrowded with inmates who were in pretrial status (70% of the jail population) and the reason they were there was that they could not afford to pay for a bail bond.  What the study revealed was that this premise is completely false.  The pretrial jail population is comprised of many different types of inmates, many of which are not eligible to be released on bail.  Taking that into consideration, the actual percentage of pretrial inmates eligible for bail in the LA County Jail is not 70%, but rather only 12% (see image).  And that 12% is a constantly revolving number of defendants that DO get out of jail pretrial, many in fact on a commercial bail bond which is the most affordable mechanism for the families of defendants. 

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Posted by: Eric Granof

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