High technology has permeated every industry these days. Immigration checkpoints in airports now rely on AI facial recognition programs, cars are driving themselves and even cashiers in the grocery store are being replaced by self-checkout machines. So it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that the bail bond agent is also experiencing the influence of advanced technology. In fact, the bail bond industry has quietly been infiltrated by high tech at practically every level. In this post, the team at Tayler Made Bail Bonding will highlight some of the ways bail bonds have gone high-tech.
There is no escaping digital technology these days. So much of what we do is now completely reliant on the global digital infrastructure that it is hard to imagine what would happen in the event of a widespread and long-lasting power outage. But that's a blog post for another day. In this post, we're going to examine six ways high tech has affected the bail industry.
For decades futurists have been predicting the end of paperwork. Up until now, that dream has largely gone unrealized. However major changes are occurring in the bonding process where paper documents are being largely supplanted by digital documents.
People hoping to bail out a loved one no longer need to spend their days trying to track down the appropriate paper documents. They can now find everything online. And it's not like they need to download those documents and fill them out either. Instead, they can fill them out online, attach an e-signature, and voila! No muss no fuss. And all done in a few minutes from the sofa in their living room.
With digital documents there is a clear data trail, processing times are dramatically reduced, and loved ones are no longer forced to take the day off from work to go bail out a spouse, son, or daughter.
It was not that long ago that cash and personal checks were the primary payment methods for securing bail. These days most bondsmen will still accept cash, up to a point, but almost no bail bond company will accept a personal check. Instead, most people secure bail for their loved one these days by using some form of online payment including credit card, debit card, and even PayPal.
Now, in just a few minutes from just about anywhere a person can locate and fill out the necessary digital documents, attach an E-signature, and make their bail payment using a card or digital wallet. Such payment methods are not only fast and largely foolproof, but they also make it easier on the person securing bail because they don’t have to walk around with large amounts of cash on their person.
Online payments also make things easier and simpler for the bondsman, who isn’t forced to store large amounts of cash in their office and does not have to deal with the considerable hassle created by bounced checks.
Apps are now available for bondsmen that handle virtually every aspect of the bail bond process. Defendant check-in, automated court reminders, payment plan integration, document management, and more are all handled via a single application. As you can imagine this saves bail agents a significant amount of time and trouble by making every component of the bail process faster, simpler, and more reliable.
For defendants, the ability to check in using an app saves them the trouble of having to juggle their schedule to make the requisite physical visit. In addition, push notifications come straight to their mobile phone alerting them to court appearances or deadlines for payment. In some cases, an app can sound the alarm if a person inadvertently wanders outside of the area of approved travel while on bail.
The amount of data generated by the bail bond process can be considerable. To complicate matters most, not some, but most of this data is of a highly personal nature.
On June 1, 2023, the CPA, or Colorado Privacy Act, came into effect providing robust protections for personal data of all kinds. It is one of the most rigorous data protection laws in the country and everyone who conducts business or provides commercial products or services targeting Colorado residents - including bail bond agents - must comply with this law.
Trying to do so by keeping all such data on a private server in the bail company office in Denver County is a tricky proposition and a practice that can best be equated to an accident waiting to happen. Fortunately, there are myriad cloud storage solutions available to the bondsman today that offer ironclad security along with state-of-the-art access protocols that prevent anyone not authorized to view the data from accessing it.
In the past when the bail agent needed to consult with a client they would have to arrange a face-to-face meeting, typically in the bondman’s office. It was an inconvenience at best and a hassle at worst for both the bondsman and the client. Fortunately, the propagation of wireless broadband technology and smartphones now makes it possible for bondsmen to conduct consultations remotely.
With a remote meeting, there is no loss in engagement. Any topic that could be discussed in person can be discussed remotely. Remote consultations also reduce costs for everyone involved, bringing new meaning to the term "affordable bail bonds”. Most notably the client is likely to save a significant amount since they will no longer have to make the trip to the bondsman’s office. A round trip that may take hours and require them to take time off from work.
This is the most controversial aspect of high-tech's incursion into the bail bond process. Mostly because it tends to remove the all-important human element from the process of evaluating whether someone should be offered bail and if so, how much that bail should be. But whether we agree with its use or not the fact is AI risk evaluation is a growing part of the bail process.
The argument for making AI and machine learning part of the bail process is that an AI program can scour trillions of pieces of data in seconds. Data that might be important when it comes to determining who should be offered bail and who shouldn’t.
These programs produce a comprehensive risk profile based on an analysis of the person’s criminal record (if any), employment history, personal relationships (Are they married? Do they have kids? etc...), and even their social media activity. Yes, AI programs employed by the courts will scour a person’s social media posts to determine if there is anything the state should be concerned about.
There are plenty of people who have plenty of reservations about using AI and machine learning in this manner and the implications it has for free speech. But it’s here and every day it becomes more ingrained in the bail process.
No industry these days is immune to the effects of encroaching technology, including the 24-hour bail bonds industry. At virtually every point in the bail process high technology is now present in the form of digital documents, online payment options, data security, remote consultations, AI-driven assessments, and apps that save time and hassle and help ensure accountability.
If you or a loved one are in need of bail in Jefferson County, Golden, or nearby communities, contact Tayler Made Bail Bonding online or by calling 303-623-0399.