When someone is arrested on suspicion of criminal behavior, the judge will prescribe an amount the non-convicted citizen must pay in order to be released from jail prior to their trial.
The bail amount is intended to ensure the defendant appears for his or her court date - but statistics show that most arrestees will show up to court on their own.
In some states like California, the average bail amount can be as high as $50,000, which is not an amount of money that the vast majority of people and families have available.
If an individual cannot afford the full bail amount, they can contract with a bail agency who will pay the court the full bail amount.
But there’s a catch - defendants are required to pay 10% of their bail upfront – a steep fee that is non-refundable, even if their case is dismissed, their charges are dropped, or they are found innocent.
You have no money
People who are arrested even for minor, nonviolent offenses, remain locked up if they can’t afford to pay a nonrefundable fee to a bail bondsman even though they have not been convicted of a crime. As a result, people who can’t afford bail lose their jobs, their homes, and their families before they even get a day in court.
You have some money
Those who do manage to scrape together enough cash to pay the bail bondsmen put themselves and their families in financial hardship, sometimes having to give up money meant for rent, medication, food, mortgage or car payments. Unfortunately, the fee to the bail bondsmen is non-refundable, even if charges are dropped or the person is exonerated by the court.
You have a lot of money
Meanwhile, the wealthy can pay to buy their freedom - even if they are a danger to society - and get out of jail the same day.
The American Money Bail Cartel is a secretive group of large insurance companies that reaps billions off-the-back of American’s poor and middle class. Learn more about how the $2 billion for-profit bail bond industry is designed to strip wealth from people and their families.
Every single day the current money bail system wastes $5 million of California taxpayers’ money in order to keep people with low-level charges, who can’t afford bail, locked up.
The money bail system has traded public safety for massive profits by making pretrial release about whether defendants can afford bail, rather than whether or not they pose any real threat to society.
The current money bail system makes it a crime to be poor. It forces innocent people to either stay in jail until their trial, or plead guilty to crimes they didn’t commit because they can’t afford bail and they can’t afford to lose their job, their home, or their family.
The bail industry’s pockets are deep, and they are prepared to spend millions of dollars to roll back California’s progress and protect their bottom line. We need your help to reach as many California voters as possible. Will you sign up to share our stories with your friends and family?