On October 1, 2011, California’s new realignment plan Assembly Bill 109 or AB 109 took effect, beginning a transfer of more than 30,000 state inmates to local county jails and supervision. The idea is that shifting prisoners from overcrowded California state prisons will save money, however the effect of this change will lead to jail overcrowding and increase the costs of local law enforcement already stretched too thin. According to an LA Times story on Nov. 11, Los Angeles County’s jails could run out of space as early as the next month due to realignment
Despite these added responsibilities, counties have not been guaranteed long-term funding for the Realignment Plan. In fact, existing monies will run out in June but this fact does not relieve them of their new obligation to house and monitor these new felons. The private bail industry has been a valuable part of the criminal justice system for more than 100 years — guaranteeing that defendants released from jail show up at their required court dates to ensure that justice is served, and doing so at no cost to taxpayers. Bail can and does help relieve jail overcrowding. Surety bail preserves constitutional rights, and doesn’t pass the cost onto California taxpayers.
Compared with other alternatives being considered to deal with jail overcrowding, including GPS tracking and released on own recognizance, surety bail is more cost effective because it can save counties millions of dollars every year on the high cost of managing, tracking and apprehending fugitives. Bail provides financial accountability for the defendants and helps build a support network by requiring friends and family members to co-sign and put up collateral for the bond. Studies show that defendants released on bail are more likely to appear in court and less likely to commit crimes while awaiting trial.
Faced with limited funding and the need for increased offender accountability, bail offers a viable solution as a proven, tested, cost-effective tool that protects taxpayers and public safety.