The Strain Pretrial Release Places on the Defendant’s Family

When a person is arrested, he or she has three pretrial service options: They can be released on their own recognizance (ROR), post a bail bond, or, if they meet the right criteria, can be accepted into a pretrial release program. While this release program seems like a good thing on the surface, it can have a negative effect on the defendant’s personal life and the life of their family. Many people accepted onto the pretrial programs must wear an ankle bracelet, give urine tests on a regular basis, and may be called from work at a moment’s notice. All this inconvenience comes at your own cost, and all before you’ve even been proven guilty!

Pretrial release programs were first introduced in 1961 with the Vera Institute’s Manhattan Bail Project. Although these projects were a success at the time, it seems that later attempts to implement these programs have not been so successful. As more and more people are being put into pretrial release programs to ease overcrowding in jails, the way in which judges select candidates for the program has become less rigorous, allowing potentially dangerous criminals to roam free in the community. As a result, less people show up in the courts when their trial date arrives. Evidence suggests that there is a lower rate of failure-to-appear when defendants are released on surety bail bonds.

Before pretrial release was introduced, the main pretrial service available to defendants was bail bonds. With the rise of pretrial release programs, the livelihood of approximately 14,000 bail agents is at risk. But some are saying that it’s possible for bail agents to work with and around these programs. A recent article written for the Florida Surety Agents Association suggests that pretrial service programs and surety agents could work together to create a more effective form of pretrial release that would benefit both surety agents and the defendant. Their plan outlines how bail agents would write bail bonds as usual, while defendants would be able to choose who monitors their release. This would increase the chance that defendants would show up in the courts.

Whether you love them or loathe them, pretrial release programs are not going away in the foreseeable future. That’s why it’s a good idea to know the benefits and pitfalls of these programs and make sure you don’t choose something that could have a negative effect on your family. The debate over pretrial release programs continues, and with practical and philosophical issues seemingly at odds, it appears there is no suitable resolution in sight. Stay educated and don’t let ineffective pretrial release programs create a strain on your family.

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