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Excerpt: "A report reveals how global insurance companies have dominated the bail bonds industry, profiting from the mass incarceration of pretrial detainees."

A man in a Bad Boys Bail Bonds jacket waits outside the Sheriff's Department Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles, Calif. on Jan. 30, 2015. (photo: AFP)
A man in a Bad Boys Bail Bonds jacket waits outside the Sheriff's Department Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles, Calif. on Jan. 30, 2015. (photo: AFP)


Misery Industry: How Global Insurers Hijacked US 'Criminal Justice' Through Bail Bonds

By teleSUR

15 May 17

 

A report reveals how global insurance companies have dominated the bail bonds industry, profiting from the mass incarceration of pretrial detainees.

very day across the United States, thousands of criminal suspects are arrested and held for ransom by law enforcement authorities.

The process plays out in local or state jails 11 million times per year: sitting behind bars for a nonviolent drug offense, a DUI charge, failing to pay child support or even more serious charges, working-class people are forced to pay exorbitant cash bail or face a life-disrupting spell of pretrial incarceration – sometimes lasting months, if not years.

In order to save one's livelihood and return to their families and jobs, those caught in the system are forced to pay large non-refundable fees to a neighborhood bail bonds company – often co-signing a contract with family and friends who put up property as collateral – that then fronts the massive bail amount allowing suspects to go free as they await their day in court. These “mom and pop” corner shops have a range of friendly names, from AAA Bail Bonds to Zigggy Zigler Bail Bonds, and sport memorable slogans, cartoon mascots and even social media profiles with strong followings.

The shops' bonds, however, are underwritten by a multinational insurance industry dominated by major insurance companies which are publicly traded in Tokyo, London and Toronto. The result of this trade in human flesh and misery-profiteering is that families are trapped in a perpetual cycle of debt while others are left to rot in a system of mass confinement – or criminal justice – which incentivizes the capture and exploitation of millions of people per year, sapping communities of needed resources and disproportionately impacting low-income people of color.

These are among the findings outlined in a startlinh new report by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, and Color of Change.

“Like payday lenders who profit from families’ needs for immediate funds, 10 bail corporations take advantage of the urgent crisis of detention to lock people and their families in bad contracts, surveillance and control, and debt,” the report states. “No matter the eventual outcome of the case, even in cases in which the arrest itself is determined to be wrongful, the money that families scrape together to pay bail corporations is lost to them forever.”

The corporate insurers extend US$14 billion in bail bonds each year yet “operate with little risk, even leading some of them to boast of going years without paying any losses,” according to the report entitled “Selling Off Our Freedom: How Insurance Corporations have taken over our Bail System."

In many cases, the corporations are subsidiaries of global publicly-traded firms registered in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, operating “far from the influence of the people and communities over whom they hold so much power.”

Why do these shadowy corporations exercise so much power? In many cases, the industry directly drafts laws which are then pushed by elected officials who are in their pockets due to campaign funding.

Across cable television, libertarian talking-heads from the Cato Institute and American Legislative Exchange Council extol the virtues of “free market solutions” meant to safeguard the profits of insurance and for-profit prison owners as they deride regulations and reforms as symptoms of “big government” that, naturally, are inimical to the demented big business conception of “liberty.”

“The bail industry has corrupted our constitutional freedoms for profit: the freedom from exploitation in bail, the guarantee of being recognized as innocent until proven guilty, and the guarantee of the equal application of the law to all people,” the report continues.

Conclusions drawn from the report are that legislators should be pressured to entirely cut private companies from the pretrial justice system, specifically by abolishing the for-profit jail industry, while conducting greater oversight and investigations into the industry and ensuring that the criminal justice system is made accountable to community demands for true justice.


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+2 # Jaax88 2017-05-15 10:49
The old evil, unscrupulous profit, is again
deforming a governmental function and damaging lives. What more can be expected
where obscene PROFITS are the rationale for society?
 
 
+4 # maindrains 2017-05-15 12:37
Americans; how can you stand whats happening in your country, especially to the poor?
 
 
0 # LionMousePudding 2017-05-16 01:44
There is zero need for pre-trial detention except in situations where the defendant is an immediate threat to the lives of others.

Instead, 3/ of our jail inmates have never been convicted of a crime, and a large percentage will never even be charged with a crime.

And they fall, as my best friend watched in his incarceration, about one every ten days: murder, suicide, whatever.

Your life is ruined if you are poor, Black, and suspected of a crime.
 

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