Facebook and Google Ban Bail Bond Ads, But Why?
Google and Facebook recently made headlines when they announced that they would no longer take ads from for-profit bail bond agencies. Google’s May 7, 2018 press announcement stated that its decision was based on protecting “communities of color and low income neighborhoods” that are often the target of bail bond providers. The two tech giants site their policy on banning deceptive or harmful products. The problem is that this effort does little to protect the most vulnerable communities they think they are helping. The companies fail to take into consideration the whole picture, how bail bondsmen play a crucial role in getting defendants released and appearing at all future court dates. The companies do not seem to understand the complexities in the criminal justice system and how bail affords people the opportunity to remain out of custody while awaiting trial.
How important is bail?
Bail allows judges to release defendants who do not pose a serious flight risk or safety issue to the public-at-large with a monetary incentive to appear at all future court appearances. Bail bondsmen take on the responsibility of locating individuals who have failed to appear at court, relieving law enforcement and the court system of this obligation. This is performed at zero cost to taxpayers and helps to keep an overburdened system from adding yet another task to their schedules.
For people that regularly work in the criminal courts: judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys – bail bondsmen are a welcome sight. They often have a connection to the defendant’s family that others cannot obtain. They work with defendants of every demographic to help get them released from jail. It makes everyone’s job easier. A defendant who is able to remain working while awaiting trial stays productive, helps their family and has an incentive to be at every court appearance. Without bail or an alternative for conditional release, failure to appear rates increase and so do incarceration rates. Without bail or an alternative, judges are limited on their options for release and many have opted to keep defendants incarcerated for fear of the public outcry if they commit another crime while released on their own recognizance.
Where do we go from here?
At the end of the day, Google and Facebook were jumping on a bandwagon. A misguided bandwagon that is headed the wrong direction. Without a doubt, there are inequities in the criminal justice system, but it does not begin and end with bail bond companies.