An article from April 12, 2012 in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled, “Courts take action to stem tide of no-shows”, reveals just how enormous the problem of having criminal defendants appear in court or pay their forfeited bail has become. The Inquirer article discloses that an amazing 47,000 defendants have active fugitive warrants for their arrest issued by Philadelphia courts and mainly because of the defendant’s failure to appear. This constitutes a third of all defendants skipped one or more court date, which is the highest failure to appear rate in the nation! Additionally, the court system is owed a staggering $1 billion in forfeited bail that will probably never be collected.
“The bottom line is we no longer can allow our system to be run by people who show up when they want to show up – if they want to show up”, said Chief Justice Seamus McCaffery, “They need to understand that there will be sanctions” (for failing to appear in court).
Then next logical question is “WHY?” Why such a huge problem for one city. Well, the answer is mainly because Philadelphia abolished the use of commercial bail bonds back in the 1960’s in favor of government run pretrial release methods, specifically, Own Recognizance (O.R.) releases. When a defendant is released “O.R.” all they do is sign a written promise to return, there are no real incentives to appear in court, no one is held accountable and the defendant really has nothing to lose by fleeing their case.
Commercial Bail Bonds would eliminate virtually all these problems for Philadelphia by transferring the responsibility of getting defendants to court onto the bail bond companies. There is no cost to the tax payers, there are REAL incentives to appear in court and bail bond forfeitures are paid in full to the court by the insurance companies, which would result in millions of dollars in new revenue.Bringing commercial bail bonds back to Philadelphia is the answer a dysfunctional criminal court system where defendants thumb their noses at the criminal justice system.AB109 – Where do they go? Bail can help.