Bail Bond

Bail Bonds and Failure to Appear

I have heard that when people are released on their own recognizance versus when they are released on surety bonds, there are most likely to fail to appear in court. Is this true? Where can I find information about it?

Varying FTA (failure to appear) rates have been verified from bonds of defendants released on their own recognizance compared to those who use bail bondsmen for surety bonds.  Two articles, in particular, provide numerous statistics, figures, and reasoning to affirm the efficacy of surety bonds over own recognizance.

Dr. Michael Block, professor of Economics and Law at the University of Arizona, produces numerous graphs exploring the cost effectiveness of surety bonds.  Block first displays the increased incidence of FTA rates in those released of their own recognizance versus those with surety bonds in his early depictions.  Block proves that over a ten percent increase for those released on their own recognizance.  Block shows the projected savings that could be accumulated if the number of surety bonds surpassed the number of own recognizance releases. 

If virtually all bonds were surety bonds, Block predicts that an estimated $109 could be saved from 12 urban counties in California.  Block writes, “We find that if Surety Bond releases comprised 52% of all releases in California’s 12 largest counties in 2000, the budget savings in these urban counties would have been over $1.3 million.”  Block reaffirms the advantages of surety bonds through his article’s entirety.

Similarly, Eric Helland and Alexander Tabarrok write convincingly of the advantages of surety bonds by employing theory and equations in their article entitled, “Public versus Private Law Enforcement: Evidence from Bail Jumping.”  Helland and Tabarrok indicate the interest a bondsman holds in ensuring a defendant shows up at the appointed court date due to their financial involvement. 

Moreover, a bondman can utilize the services of a bounty hunter to force the defendant to be brought under the jurisdiction of the court.  Helland and Tabarrok also declare that bondsmen have increased time and resources to spend on ensuring a defendant is brought to justice, whereas often police bureaus lack the resources and staff to hunt down those who have jumped bail. 

Helland and Tabarrok, like Block, explore the data and statistics, writing, “In light of the persistent criticism that surety bail encourages FTA it is perhaps surprising that the data consistently indicate that defendants released via surety bond have lower FTA rates than defendants released under other methods.” 

Undoubtedly both articles display persuasive arguments advocating surety bonds and the efficacy of the private system over the public system of release on own recognizance.