Selling off our Freedom:

How Insurance Corporations Have Taken Over Our Bail System

May 10th, 2017

Every year, millions of people are condemned to cages and separated from their families simply because they cannot afford to pay bail after an arrest. This country’s justice system claims to treat people as if they are innocent until proven guilty but the reality is that before even being convicted of a crime, the accused and their families are forced to pay non-refundable deposits to bail companies in exchange for their release from jail. Bail insurers prey on those entering into the criminal justice system and trap them in debt through high fees and installment plans. These profiteers coerce people into signing over their privacy rights and when it’s not profitable, they leave people in jail.

This practice of forcing people to buy their freedom--reminiscent of a time when slaves and their families had to do the same--has been part of American culture for centuries, and it is now being exploited by the bail bond industry. Because racial disparity exists in every aspect of the criminal justice system, the use of money bail perpetuates this racial bias and enables big bail insurance companies to profit off the backs of our nation's most marginalized Black communities. In addition to the over $9 billion wasted to incarcerate people who have been convicted of no crime, pre-trial incarceration has catastrophic impacts on families and communities. Just a few days in jail can cause irreversible harm and force people to lose their job, their housing, their children and, in cases like Sandra Bland, even cause them to lose their life. 

The abolition of the for-profit bail industry is a crucial step to ending mass incarceration. Big bail companies have one major goal: to continue profiteering from the arrest and caging of people. They do not care if these people are innocent, if jail conditions are inhumane or if bail bondsmen’s practices mimic predatory lending. This “profit over people” sentiment is why corporations should not be the gatekeepers of a person’s pretrial detention and release.

Discover the rarely heard and even less understood story of how the bail industry has corrupted our constitutional freedoms for profit.  Read Color Of Change’s bail industry report, supported by ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice: SELLING OFF OUR FREEDOM: HOW INSURANCE CORPORATIONS HAVE TAKEN OVER OUR BAIL SYSTEM 

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Stand with other Color Of Change members and take action to end the slave-like practice of money bail! Click the links below to learn more about our bail campaigns.