You know what bail bonds are, but chances are you don’t know where the idea originated, or how the concept has changed throughout the years. If you’ve ever been in the position of needing to secure bail bonds in Angleton, TX, you know how important and necessary they are. Here’s a look at the history of bail bonds.
American bail roots
The United States’ bail laws can actually be traced all the way back to our government’s English roots. From the 13th through 17th centuries, British nobility greatly abused bail, setting high bail rates for their own gain. Public dissatisfaction with this practice led to a section of the British Bill of Rights (written in 1689), which stated that “excessive bail ought not to be required.” This set in motion the idea that ordinary people should be able to post bail, and that bail should not be set so high that paying it is impossible.
This line of reasoning can be traced directly to the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states that “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
Bail bonds, sureties and reform
America perfected the bail system by introducing sureties in the 19thcentury. A surety is a type of loan insurance in which a third party (such as an insurance company) takes on some of the borrowing party’s risk. Sureties took a good deal of risk out of lending bail bonds, which meant a rise in the number of bail bondsmen willing to do business with more people.
Nearly 20 years ago, Congress passed the Bail Reform Bill of 1996, a major step in making fair bond accessible to almost all defendants. The Bail Reform Bill requires that all defendants, with the exception of those facing the death penalty, have the right to a fair bail. The only reason a judge would have to set unreasonably high bail would be if a defendant was considered a “flight risk,” meaning that the judge had reason to believe that the defendant would not show up for their appointed court date if let out on bail.
Bail bonds today
Today, bail bonds in America remain shaped by the Bail Reform Bill of 1996, and bail bondsmen accept many different types of collateral, as well as property loans and surety loans. There are, however, a few places where bail is very different.
In the past 20 years, a few states passed laws to restrict bail bondsmen. In Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Oregon, commercial bail has been outlawed. Some argue that this is for the best, because in their minds, loaning bail for profit is an exploitative use of the criminal justice system. However, commercial bail bondsmen often are able to influence their clients into appearing for their court date, because the bondsmen have a vested interest in their clients doing so. States that do not have commercial bail bondsmen run the risk of having more defendants not show up for their court dates. But in Angleton, TX, commercial bail bonds are alive and well, especially at Brazoria County Bail Bonds.