We have all heard that overcrowded prisons are a 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, the wrong party is accused of having caused the problem. With the growth in the number of inmates in the country's prisons and the decline in funding, some would like to use bail bonds as a scapegoat, which is causing prison overcrowding.
One of the most erroneous beliefs is that prisons are overcrowded because many detainees are stranded in jail pending the start of the trial. According to those who have studied this subject, 70 to 80% of all detainees are awaiting trial in prison because they can not afford to pay money for a bonded slave. However, experts say that this is not true.
The study that most of the detainees are in prison pending the start of their trial is in fact contradictory. The JFA Institute studied prison overcrowding in Los Angeles County and found that about 70% of the prisoners were actually sitting in jail awaiting trial. The study also determined that many of the 70% of prisoners are detained in such a way that they are not eligible for bail or that someone is paying them.
For example, many of the prisoners held in Los Angeles County prisons are so because they were declared too violent to be released into society. Taking into account these circumstances, this means that only 13% of the total population of prisoners in the prisons are in this prison because they can not afford to pay a slave on bail. 13% of the prison population does not cause overcrowding in prisons.
Another fact that demonstrates this point is that not all states allow commercial bonds. Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Oregon prohibit the use of commercial bonds. Why then do these states experience higher levels of overcrowding in county jails and higher costs for taxpayers for detaining and housing detainees? The JFA's study of overcrowded prisons seems to have conveniently overlooked facts such as this one to draw their conclusions.
Since county jails are used primarily to keep prisoners until the beginning of their trial, it is obvious that this applies to the majority of prisoners. Blaming bail for causing prison overcrowding is misinterpreted by this type of false information. Those who run their businesses to bail companies for creating overcrowded prisons use this idea to justify the release of prisoners that the prison was designated to be held.