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9 Questions Answered About Pre-Trial Release

  • December 22, 2014
  • by AboutBail Staff
  • Videos

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Pre-trial release might sound good in theory, but when accountability is placed only on the defendant and no monitoring is involved, it can result in a fugitive. Did you know that if a defendant out on pre-trial release skips bail, it is low priority for a police officer to find them, whereas it is a bondsman's number one priority to ensure his or her clients show up for court? Did you also know that the average bail bondsman needs to have over a 95% success rate in order to stay profitable? That means if more than 5% of the bondsman's clients skip bail the bondsman will go out of business. Pre-trial relies on funding from taxpayers, is used in violent cases, and holds no individual financially accountable for the defendant and his or her accused crimes. When you look at the facts, commercial bail is the clear better option.

The above video pulls from information provided in a report produced by the American Legislative Council (ALEC), that states, "Thousands of violent defendants are released every day to roam our streets and neighborhoods, and your tax dollars are paying for it." 

This video answers 9 important questions about pre-trial release, further displaying the benefits of commercial bail.

1. What is Pre-trial Release?

It is normally a local government entity that releases criminal defendants from jail, at no cost to the defendant.

2. How is it funded?

Local tax dollars fund Pre-Trial Release programs. The average program has a budget in excess of $1 million.

3. When is it used?

Pre-trial Release was first used for less-serious crimes when a defendant couldn't afford bail. Now it is used in violent cases even if the defendant can afford bail.

4. What happens after release?

The Pre-Trial Release person is supposed to make sure the defendant shows up in court. Many do not and are still fugitives after one year.

5. Who is held responsible?

When a defendant does not appear, no one is held financially responsible.

6. Who tracks them down?

If the defendant fails to appear it is up to local law enforcement to locate them and bring them back to court. It is a low priority.

7. Does this penalize taxpayers?


8. Do most taxpayers know about Pre-Trial Release?


9. Is there an alternative?

Yes: commercial bail.


Only 3% of defendants become fugitives when out on commercial bail. And it doesn't affect your tax dollars.

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