Jail overcrowding is a topic that has been in the news a lot lately, especially in California. Thanks mostly to AB109, Governor Brown’s prison realignment plan, there has been a massive influx of thousands of convicted state prisoners that have been moved from state prisons and placed in local county jails. While on the surface this solution might seem logical, move the people where the space is, the reality is that it is not logical at all. What happens when you place state prisoners in county jails is that the county jails become crowded and the pretrial populations that these facilities were designed to handle in the first place are now kicked to the streets for lack of space. Why does this matter? It matters because in doing so, we send a message to those committing crimes that if they commit a crime in California and it is not a violent, non-serious crime, then they will get the equivalent of a slap on the wrist and put back out on the streets with no accountability or oversight. Just check out this latest report out of Roseville, California where criminals are being released and rearrested within days only to be released again.
Original article: Local Law Enforcement Frustrated with Non-Stop Inmate Release
So what is the solution to this problem? As you can imagine, the answer to such a complex problem such as this isn’t simply one thing, but rather it must consist of a range of solutions that include both public and private solutions. One of these solutions is the private commercial bail industry that has been playing a vital role in California’s criminal justice system for close to a century. Not only does the commercial bail industry facilitate the management of pretrial defendants in California’s criminal justice system, it does so at $0 cost to the state and taxpayer. In fact, based on countless research studies conducted by the Department of Justice and several prestigious universities across the country, the commercial bail industry has been shown to be the most effective form of releasing defendants pretrial and ensuring their appearance in court. Based on those facts, one can only assume that the commercial bail industry would be a big consideration as one of the solutions to more effectively and efficiently release these pretrial populations from the county jails and ensure that those defendants not only go to court, but stay out of trouble in the meantime. Based on those facts, one can only assume that having someone accountable and financially on the hook for their behavior is a better option than just releasing them on their own (which the news story referenced above clearly shows does not work). Unfortunately, commercial bail is not being looked at as a potential solution.
Why? Because still, in the face of all those facts, there are those who refuse to accept financially secured release as a viable pretrial release option. In the face of all those facts there are still those that push only for more public sector resources and programs which cost valuable taxpayer dollars that the state doesn’t have. Isn’t it time that our leadership stop ignoring the facts and the realities of the ineffectiveness and unsustainable costs associated with public sector pretrial release programs and come to the table to discuss real solutions; Solutions that incorporate the best of both the private and public sectors working together. Only time will tell.