While mass incarceration is the “hot topic” of criminal justice reform, there are many facets of the system that are equally unfair or disproportionate. Perhaps, none as much as the costs associated with arrest and incarceration. While bail may not help once sentenced and incarcerated, it may prevent the costs leading to it. Here’s a quick look at the numerous and unfair expenditures that come once involved in criminal proceedings.
COURT FINES AND FEES
Huffington Post recently covered how the costs associated with an arrest effect the impoverished. While the article also grouped bail with the other fines and fees, it failed to take into account how a bail bonds agency will offer payment plans and works with the defendant and their families, while the court does not. Essentially, the fees and fines associated with court are in place as a deterrent, to cover costs of the court, or to raise money for the state. In any case these fees and fines are not flexible and must be paid in order to maintain good standing and in many cases stay out of jail, but the economic situation of the people involved is not considered. This can place a financial hardship on those involved.
HOTEL OR PRISON
Another area of high costs, as reported by AlterNet, is coming from prisoners being charged for their time in prison. A number of states are assessing the net worth of inmates, then assessing fees and charges for their prison terms. These charges come in the form of medical expenses, food, and room and board. In a couple of disturbing accounts, inmates were awarded settlements for various forms of mistreatment, only to face retaliation in the form of a lawsuit for various “costs.” This practice leaves the inmate facing destitution and poverty immediately upon release, which can only increase the likelihood of a return to crime.
HOW BAIL HELPS
While it sounds unlikely, using a a bail bondsman to get out of jail after an arrest can help. As previously mentioned, a bail bonds company can offer flexible payment options that the court and system will not. Furthermore, consider that a number of cases are ultimately dropped after a person is bailed out and the cases that go to trial have sufficient time to mount a defense, which can help eliminate court costs and help the defendant stay out of jail, so there will be no bogus “room and board” costs.