This report tells the rarely heard and even less understood story of how the bail industry has corrupted our constitutional freedoms for profit: the freedom from exploitation in bail, the guarantee of being recognized as innocent until proven guilty, and the guarantee of the equal application of the law to all people.
Corporate opportunists have hijacked public authority and created an unnecessary and largely unaccountable $2 billion bail industry that profits from trapping people both inside and out of jail, often for long after their charges with the courts have been resolved. It may seem paradoxical to learn that bail—a process meant to guarantee freedom and fairness in the criminal justice system for people who have not been convicted of a crime— is being used by corporations in this way. Yet it happens daily nationwide, typically with little resistance from the politicians, judges, and prosecutors sworn to protect public rights.
The for-profit bail industry has reinforced and profited from the racially biased nature of our criminal justice system, which routinely targets low-income people, Black people, and other people of color for reasons that have nothing to do with their guilt or innocence.
This report exposes how the industry works, the corporations and enablers in government that are behind it, who they impact and the extent of their damage, the inherent problems with allowing a for-profit industry to hold the key to the jailhouse gates, and why this practice of for-profit money bail must end.