Proponents of so-called “bail reform” are fond of touting the alleged benefits of a world without bail bonds. To these short-sighted individuals bail is responsible for everything from climate change to the loss of manufacturing jobs and everything in between. But one thing proponents of the bail-less system aren’t so eager to talk about is how many new fugitives the bail free system is creating on a daily basis. It seems that once people realize they won’t lose any money if they fail to appear in court they’re... failing to appear. And in record numbers. In some states that have eliminated cash bail the failure to appear rate has skyrocketed to as much as 40%. That’s in contrast to states that still have cash bail where the failure to appear rate averages about 10%.
The snake oil salesmen trying to convince people nationwide that they’d be better off without bail talk about bondsmen as though they were career criminals. As they engage in their non-stop smears they forget to mention the above statistics regarding failure to appear rates. They also fail to mention one more important aspect of the bail system: the bounty hunter. If someone jumps bail it’s the duty of the bail bonding agent to track them down and return them to custody. To do this most engage the services of a bounty hunter. As a result, the fugitive is more often than not returned to custody without the state having to bear any costs.
As soon as you eliminate bail however, you also eliminate the bounty hunter. Which raises an important question: Who tracks down fugitives now? The answer in most cases is “no one”. Sheriff’s Deputies didn’t have the time or resources to track down fugitives before. And now, with no-bail states becoming fugitive factories they’re even further behind the 8 ball.
When bail goes so goes accountability. And in most no-bail jurisdictions that means lots of fugitives no one is able to bring in. Even those accused of serious crimes such as having sex with children or assault and battery are finding it remarkably easy to avoid their day of reckoning. Thanks to bail reform.
It’s estimated that in the past year nearly 3,500 people accused of violent sexual assaults, armed robbery and homicide have slipped away from authorities simply by hopping across the border into a neighboring state. These people have discovered the joys of life under the bail free system where bondsmen no longer hire bounty hunters to track them down. And counties simply decide to let them go because they can’t afford to chase them.
That 3,500 violent offenders that states are allowing to get away, however, are just the tip of the iceberg. Because the total number of fugitives from justice nationwide today is in the hundreds of thousands. In nearly 190,000 of those cases local authorities have essentially given up and won’t pursue the fugitive. In another 80,000 cases involving serious felonies local authorities have informed the FBI (who track those fugitives) they won’t consider going after the fugitive unless they are in a neighboring state.
That means that people who skip out on serious charges in New Jersey, where there are no bail bonds, are safe as long as they go to Connecticut, Ohio or Virginia. And those fleeing California (where again there is no bail) are safe as long as they go to Washington, Utah or New Mexico. So if you’re in one of those safe havens for felons you have New Jersey and California to thank for exporting their fugitives to you and eroding your quality of life.
So, thanks to bail reform, the situation in the US has come to this: people get arrested on serious charges in no-bail states. The computer algorithm determines through a process no one understands that they are not a flight risk. As a result that person is allowed to walk with nothing more than a promise they’ll show up for their court date. Once free they (surprise!) flee to another state. There they set up a new life safe in the knowledge that no bounty hunter will come after them and that the state where they committed the crime can’t afford to chase them.
Bail reform proponents call that “progress”. But if that’s progress we’d like to know what they consider “failure”. And the nightmare doesn’t stop there. Because even when people are arrested in other states and it is discovered that they are fugitives from justice the states where they committed the original crime are simply saying “let him go.” Because they can’t afford to go get them.
Folks in Jefferson County, Arapahoe County, Denver County and elsewhere in Colorado have been under intense pressure recently from bail reformers to eliminate cash bail. These lobbyists - often out-of-staters who wouldn’t have to live with the consequences of their actions - cite half-baked studies and make their impassioned pleas about social justice hoping to win the day. What voters here need to remember is that bail reform equals more fugitives, higher taxes and a more dangerous society for everyone. Don’t take the bait. The next time someone tries to sell you on bail reform ask them who’s going to pay to track down fugitives if the bondsman is eliminated.