Incarceration And Alternative Sentencing

The response to crime in the United States for many years has been to put all criminal offenders behind bars. This has proven to be an expensive approach with mixed results. There are more people in American prisons than in any other industrialized nation. It is estimated that one out of every hundred Americans is currently in prison. According to a study done by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the number of prisoners has started to go down. Even with this trend, the desire to find ways to decrease the prison population in the United States continues.

Recidivism

The goal of incarceration is for a person to not return to prison. Recidivism rates or the number of convicted offenders returning to prison is high. It has been estimated that over 75 percent of individuals released from prison are rearrested. Approximately 50 percent are rearrested within one year after leaving the prison system. This includes over 70 percent of violent offenders. A number of programs have been attempted to decrease these numbers. An approach called risk-need-responsivity (RNR) has shown some promise. This is a tool designed to accurately assess an individual and get them in the correct program. There is a focus on learning social skills. This could involve everything from anger management to correcting antisocial attitudes. A study conducted by The Justice Center for Research (JCR), located at Pennsylvania State University examined recidivism programs and their results. The study showed alternate incarceration programs provide success. It also showed that the desire to change remains with an individual and their choice to transform themselves.

Incarceration Alternatives

The overcrowding of prisons is making states consider ways to avoid the incarceration of criminal offenders. This is often referred to as alternative sentencing. Community service is common for minor offenses. A person who is sentenced could be required to work at a number of different organizations in the jurisdiction where they were convicted. This work could involve everything from doing public clean up work to helping in shelters and more. Home detention is another alternative to a person being incarcerated. The person convicted of a crime is monitored with an electronic device they will be required to wear. They can still go to work, church and more. With private jail, the convicts are able to serve their sentence at a jail on weekends. They check in on Friday and are released on Sunday.

Qualifying

Not every individual convicted of a crime is eligible for alternative sentencing. Eligibility will vary depending on the conviction and jurisdiction. In some cases, committing a crime with a mandatory sentence disqualifies a person. There may be issues of drug abuse or serious mental illness. A low score on an assessment test can also disqualify a person. An experienced attorney will know when their client has a good chance at receiving alternate sentencing.

Effectiveness of Alternate Sentencing

Studies have shown that home detention with an electronic device has led to a decrease in recidivism. It is used on individuals who are non-violent offenders and who have not committed a serious crime. Some argue this is not a deterrent but a result of it being used with low-risk individuals. Others argue not exposing such an individual to the prison system also influences its success. Alternate sentencing is a cost effective method of punishment. The prison system will not have to provide clothing, housing or food for an offender. This means the total spending for each person convicted of a crime decreases dramatically.

Inmate Rights

There have been laws put in place to ensure that all Americans are treated fairly, and that includes prisoners. Unfortunately, many prisoners do not know that they have rights. Below are some of the rights that inmates are entitled to:

The Right To Receive Adequate Medical And Dental Care

Prison officials are required to ensure that all inmates receive medical and dental care, and this includes inmates who suffer from a mental health condition. Prison medical personnel are required to treat both acute and chronic illnesses. The care provided must be adequate. However, the medical or dental care a person receives in a prison may not be as good as the type one would receive in a facility outside of the prison.

It is estimated that four percent of the women in prison are pregnant. Regardless of whether these women choose to get an abortion or continue with the pregnancy, they are entitled to adequate medical care. Furthermore, prisons are required to make the necessary accommodations for disabled inmates.

Inmates Have The Right To Complain About Prison Conditions Or The Way They Are Being Treated

Many inmates are subjected to cruel and inhumane punishment, and they do not think they can do anything about it. However, inmates have the right to complain about the way they are treated by prison officials. They also have the right to complain about their living conditions to other prison officials or in court.

In Iowa, an inmate was awarded $7,000 in damages. He had been placed in solitary segregation for one year. After that, he was transferred to another facility where he stated that his life was put in danger because he complained about the conditions and had filed a lawsuit.

The Eight Amendment Of The Constitution is what gives prisoners the right to be protected against unfit living conditions and inhumane punishment. Prison officials are required to discipline inmates if the need arises. However, any punishment that violates a person’s dignity can be considered inhumane.

In 1995, a judge in Massachusetts found that prisoners were treated inhumanely. They were held in a prison that was infested with pests and did not have enough bathrooms.

The Right To Free Of All Forms Of Sexual Crimes

People who are in prison have the right to be free of all types of sexual crimes. This includes things such as molestation, rape and sexual harassment. Neither prison officials nor other inmates are allowed to sexually violate an inmate in any way.

The Basic Rights Of The First Amendment

The basic first amendment rights, such as free religion and speech, still apply to Inmates. They are allowed to exercise their first amendment rights as long as they do not interfere with their inmate status. For example, prison officials can open any mail that an inmate receives in order to ensure that it does not have any weapons or other prohibited. However, just because they find the correspondence, rude does not mean they have the right to censor it.

Common Bail Bond Mistakes

Bail Bonds Explained

For adult criminal cases, bail is an amount of money that criminal defendants must deposit as a guarantee that they will return to court. Bail isn’t a punishment. It’s simply a way to guarantee that a person accused of a crime will come back to stand trial. It’s up to the judge to decide the amount of the bail bond. The law requires that the amount be set according to what the defendant can afford. However, it can also depend on the type of crimes committed, whether the person is a repeat offender, as well as if there’s a risk they will not return to court. Typically, the accused is arrested and jailed. At an arraignment, the judge decides the bail amount. In order to get out of jail once bail has been set, either the defendant or a friend must post bail.

Failing to Give a Proper Address

Some common bail bond errors are clerical in nature. For example, the wrong address may be given. This is important because, in most states, a bonding agency has every right to get a defendant sent back to jail, without refunding any fees, if they discover a wrong address was provided. Some key tips to remember are: make sure to use a street name or avenue appropriately, for example, 52nd Street is different from 52nd Avenue. It is also important to have the correct spelling of a street name as well as providing the correct number of the residence. Include any apartment number or floor level. Also include the city, state and zip code.

Getting Arrested For the Same Crime

If the accused gets arrested again for the same crime, the bond agency is legally permitted, by most states, to come off of the bond all together. The bond agency would be able to keep any monies they received for the first arrest. This can be avoided by having a contact or an attorney notify the bond company. By doing so, the bond company won’t be able to come off the bond since they were notified of the second arrest. The defendant will be behind bars, so having someone notify the bond company on their behalf is important.

Failing to Notify the Bail Company after an Arrest for a Different Crime

If the accused is arrested for a different crime and the bond agency isn’t notified, but discovers this new arrest by way of a “failure to appear” bench warrant issued when the defendant wasn’t able to appear for the original court hearing, then the bond agency has a legal right to turn the file over to a bail recovery agency. This means the defendant has to pay more fees and expenses. One way to avoid this is by having either an attorney or a contact notify the bond agency as soon as an arrest has been made. Hundreds of dollars could be at stake if updates are not given to bond agencies.

Failing to Notify the Bail Company about Out-Of-State Travel

By law, a bail company is allowed to revoke a bond without refunding any fees paid to them in the first place, if they haven’t been notified of a defendant’s out-of-state travel. As soon as a defendant needs to travel, notifying the bail agency should be a main priority. This can be done either directly or through a contact person or attorney.

Being convicted of a crime brings on stress and many decisions must be considered for the best possible outcome. Thinking through and being aware of all requirements can be the best way to get the desired result.

History of Bail Bonds

Bail bonds are an accepted part of the criminal justice system in modern times. However, many people are not aware of how old the concept of bails bonds is. People in the Western world began posting bail, that is giving money or property in exchange for being released from jail, in the thirteeth century.

However, the practice of posting bail bonds is seen in records dating back four millennia in what is now Iraq. Wealthy land owners would use their sheep as collateral for a community member to secure their release. The accused then had to maintain contact with their “bondsman,” often working for him until the trial was concluded. Most cultures that have criminal justice systems have had some sort of bail bond system in their history.

The bail bond system began because of one core problem with bail: it naturally gave an unfair advantage to the wealthy, who had large amounts of liquid assets. Middle and lower class people were usually not able to post bail and thus were unable to be released from jail while awaiting a trial. Being incarcerated during the pre-trial period has been found to lead to more convictions and heavier sentences, because the accused is not able to participate in building a defense. This made the justice system inherently unfair to people who were not rich.

This led to the formation of money-lending businesses specifically for the accused, a practice that was brought to the United States from Britain during the country’s Colonial era. However, the first modern American bail bonds company, in which a percentage is given by the accused and the rest by the bail bondsmen, was formed in 1898 in San Francisco. Tom and Peter P. McDonough ran a business similar to modern bail bonds companies, lending the majority of bail in exchange for guaranteeing that the person released would appear in court. The McDonough brothers were bar owners who began posting bail bonds as a favor to favorite patrons in exchange for a percentage of the amount posted. While there have been some changes in the century since this business model was instituted, the system and basic principles remain the same except for legal variations from state to state.

In the United States today, bail bonds companies lend $14 billion annually. There are over 13 million arrests in the US every year, and 49% of these people have bail set in exchange for release. Most Americans cannot afford the high amounts set in bail, and people who stay in custody until their trial are more likely to be convicted due to be unable to build a case. These factors make bail bonds an important part of the American justice system.

The top three accused crimes needing bail are assault and battery, larceny theft, and public intoxication. Bail bonds are most often used for felonies that have jail sentences if convicted and thus fulfill a need for the accused to get legal representation and build a case. Bail bonds companies play an important role in ensuring that people of all means can get a fair chance in court.

Bail Rewrite vs Bail Reassumption

Something many people ask a bail bond company is: What is the difference between a bail rewrite and a bail reassumption?

Bail Rewrites

A bail rewrite is when a bond is rewritten to replace previous bail for the same charges. It is needed when charges are not filed in a case and the court forgives the bond. It is up to the bond issuer whether or not to do a bail rewrite. These companies usually rewrite bail for a specific amount of time after the first bail is forgiven.

Getting a Rewrite

The process of posting a bail bond can differ from time to time due to a defendant’s situation. Oftentimes, defendants, co-signers, and defense attorneys misunderstand when a bail rewrite is needed.

A bail rewrite is needed for a criminal defendant if bail has already been posted and legal circumstances change so more bail is required. For example, a defendant was arrested then was bailed out for $15,000. At the first court appearance, the district attorney’s office ups the charges in the case to a felony and/or adds more criminal charges to the original complaint. The district attorney’s office asks the judge for a higher bail in the amount of $50,000, because of the new charges. The defendant must now make bail in the amount of $50,000. If the court requires bail at a higher amount, the bail bond issuer usually issues a credit for the original bond and the defendant pays only the difference.

The bond company does not have to post the larger bail. The first bond was written based on the charges at the time of arrest. Depending on the new charges and bail amount, more security may be needed to guarantee the new bail amount.

A bail rewrite cannot be given in the case of a forfeited bail. The defendant’s failure to appear in court or having their bail amount raised does not constitute a bail rewrite.

Bail Reassumption

When a defendant fails to appear in court or is late for court, the judge might issue a bench warrant. A reassumption is a letter to the court stating that the bail bonds company is willing to continue the bail. It is up to the judgment of the bail bond company as to whether or not to issue a resumption.

Out of every hundred people who get a bail bond, there will be a few people who will run late, forget their court date, lose their paperwork, or have some other excuse as to why they missed court.

When this happens, the judge can do two things. One, the judge issues a bench warrant to arrest the person, or two, the defendant forfeits their bond. In order to rectify the problem, the defendant will need the bond reinstated. This means the bail bond issuer will have to provide the court with written proof that the judge reinstated the bond with the agreement that the bail bond agency willingly reassumed responsibility for the defendant’s appearance. This letter, which is written proof, can be provided in such circumstances. When the defendant goes back to see the judge, the letter reverses the two options already mentioned. It will reinstate the bond and will make the judge recall the bench warrant.

Own Recognizance and Release on Citation


What is Own Recognizance?

If a criminal defendant is released on own recognizance, then he or she is released from custody without having to post bail. This can be referred to as O.R., and is usually granted in minor crimes such as traffic violations. It is common for a criminal defendant to request release on own recognizance during his or her first court date. If a defendant is released on own recognize, then he or she is required to sign a document that guarantees they will be present for their next court date. When a criminal defendant is released on own recognizance, then the court depends on the honesty of the defendant to appear on his or her court date.

When is Own Recognizance Issued?

There are many factors that determine when O.R. is given to a defendant. A court agency or law enforcement agency administers own recognizance programs. The past criminal history of the defendant is taken into account when a defendant requests O.R. The type of crime that the defendant is charged with is also considered, and the likelihood that the defendant will break the law during his or her trial.

Before own recognizance is given to a defendant, a criminal background investigation must be performed by a county or law enforcement agency. These agencies can also interview the defendant to determine if he or she will appear in court. If the defendant’s background check is cleared, then a recommendation is given to the judge to grant the defendant own recognizance. Own recognizance is usually only given to defendants who are first-time offenders and have not committed violent crimes. A judge will also consider a defendants financial obligations, work responsibilities, and if they make any contributions to the community.

What is Release on Citation?

Release on citation, also known as cite out or citation release, occurs when an arresting police officer issues a citation to a criminal suspect that requires him or her to appear at a mandatory court date. This is a pretrial release, and is usually issued immediately after the arrest. If a criminal defendant does not make his or her mandatory court date, then a bench warrant is placed against the defendant. Release on citation allows the defendant to continue with daily responsibilities until the trial. Release on citation is similar to release on own recognizance because the court relies on the integrity of the defendant to make his or her court date.

When is Release on Citation Issued?

The arresting officer will issue a release on citation immediately after the arrest. If a citation release is issued, then the defendant might not be placed in custody by the arresting officer, which will result in limited to no confinement for the defendant. There have been problems with release on citation. Incorrect booking procedures can lead to officers giving a defendant a release on citation when the defendant has outstanding warrants. Release on citation protects the rights of the defendant by enforcing that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

Most Common Reasons You Get Pulled Over

Despite your best intentions, it can be easy to be pulled over by a cop and receive a ticket that may increase the cost of your insurance. Additionally, being pulled over can prevent you from reaching your destination in a timely manner. To prevent the financial and emotional hassles associated with getting pulled over, you should avoid the five following common driving mistakes.

Ignoring the Speed Limit

Police issue tickets to those driving too fast because their reaction time is severely decreased, and they pull over slow drivers under suspicion that alcohol or drugs are involved. You should be aware of the posted speed limit at all times to avoid being pulled over for this violation. Officers may allow you an extra five to ten miles above the speed limit before pulling you over, but this is up to their discretion.

Choosing Not to Wear a Seat belt

Though the fines vary depending on your location, being pulled over for a seat belt violation can easily result in a ticket that will cost you over $100. This is one of the easiest mistakes to avoid when it comes to getting pulled over by the police, because it only takes a few seconds to fasten your seat belt before you begin your trip.

Following Other Vehicles Too Closely

If you are tailgating another car, you run the risk of reducing the time you have to react if they need to suddenly stop. The general rule is that drivers should allow one car length between them and the car in front of them for every 10 mph that they are driving.To avoid getting pulled over for following a vehicle too closely, pass ones that are going to slowly for you to comfortably follow behind. If you cannot pass them, remind yourself that getting pulled over by a cop will delay your trip more than having to slow down to follow them.

Using Vehicle Equipment Improperly

Since a broken headlight can be expensive to replace, you might be tempted to drive without one. Alternately, you might decide not to use your turn signal or fail to turn your headlights on at all. In both of these instances, you are making it more difficult for the other drivers on the road to know where you are going. To avoid getting pulled over, always use your turn signal when you are getting ready to make a turn, and turn your headlights on 30 minutes before sunrise and sunset. Certain weather conditions, such as rain, snow and fog, also require the use of headlights in order to make your vehicle visible to the other drivers.

Engaging in Reckless Driving

The category of reckless driving includes multiple behaviors that police offers can judge to be putting yourself and other drivers at risk, including include improper lane changes, failing to stop at a stop sign or traffic light, shaving while driving, committing a u-turn, or texting while driving. Avoiding getting pulled over for committing these mistakes is easy if you remember that your attention should always be focused on the act of driving. You might be in a hurry, but your reckless driving will only catch the attention of a police officer, who will delay your trip further by pulling you over.

All About Field Sobriety Tests

One of the last things that drivers want to see while driving is a police car behind them with its lights flashing. However, it is a fact of life that happens every day. So long as police officers have probable cause to believe drivers are drinking and driving, they can pull them over and make them perform various field sobriety tests.

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

The best way to define field sobriety tests is to explain their purpose. Basically, the purpose of these tests is to measure a person’s specific reflexes and/or responses that can become compromised after drinking alcohol. For example, when people drink excessively, their coordination and ability to follow directions are often adversely affected. Some tests can also measure blood alcohol content, or BAC.

Common Types of Tests

There are several different types of field sobriety tests that police officers can make drivers perform if they suspect they have been drinking and driving. While drivers can refuse to take these tests, it is essential to note that if they do refuse, they very well could be arrested. Some of the most common tests and brief descriptions of each can be found below.

  1. The Breathalyzer – When people drink, the alcohol is absorbed into their body, and one of the places where it ends up is in the lungs. A breathalyzer device can determine the amount of alcohol that is in the person’s body. While the legal standard that defined drunkenness was once a 0.10 BAC in the U.S., many states today have pushed the limit back to 0.08.
  2. Stand on One Leg – The purpose of this test is to measure the driver’s ability to maintain balance while standing on one leg. During this test, drivers are asked to place their hands to their sides, lift one leg and slowly count to a certain number. The police officer will take note if the person loses balance, loses count, displays a lack of coordination or falls over.
  3. Walk a Straight Line – This test is often referred to as the walk and turn test. Drivers who are asked to perform this test will need to walk a specific number of steps in a heel-to-toe fashion along an invisible line. At the end of the line, they must turn and walk back the same way. They will fail the test if they lose their balance, walk outside of the line, lose count of their steps or fall over.
  4. Touching the Nose – In this test, drivers will be asked to stand straight with their feet together. They must then close their eyes, extend one arm at a time and touch their nose. People who lose their balance, miss their nose or display muscle tremors will fail the test.
  5. The Nystagmus Test – During this test, police officers will request drivers to follow a pencil or finger while it is about six inches from the nose. If the drivers cannot follow the pencil or finger or if their eyes waver, jerk or tremble, they will fail the test.
  6. Rhomberg Balance Test – Drivers who are asked to perform this test will be instructed to stand straight with their eyes closed and their head tilted back. If they lose their balance, fall over, or display any muscle tremors or spasms, they will fail the test.

Avoiding Field Sobriety Tests

Of course, the best way to avoid getting pulled over and being asked to perform a field sobriety test is to not drink and drive. Drinking and driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents and vehicle-related deaths today. When people have been drinking and need to drive home, they should always ask a sober person to drive them. If there is not anyone available to drive them home, they should call a taxi.

Bail Bond Cosigner

In today’s legal system, when an individual commits a crime, they are deemed innocent until proven guilty. In many cases, individuals accused of a crime have the option to be let out on bail until the date of their court hearing. While this seems like a simple procedure, there is one very common problem that most face, and that is being unable to individually pay the bond fee. To still give those accused of a crime the opportunity to stay out of jail until their court date, the legal system allows the accused to take out a bail bond. In many cases, the bail bond requires a cosigner. Below is all the necessary information about what it means to be a cosigner and what responsibilities are involved.

Bail Bonds Cosigner Overview

A bail bond is essentially an agreement between the bail bond company, the courts, and the “indeminator” commonly known as the “cosigner.” When a bail bond is taken out for the purpose of bailing someone out of jail, a cosigner is someone that is given financial responsibility for the bond should the accused not fulfill his or her obligation to show up in court. However, there are instances where notifying the bail bonds company of an issue on behalf of the accused can protect the cosigner from paying for the bond. It is recommended that you contact the bail bond company and the court immediately if there is a problem.

Responsibilities of a Cosigner

Individuals that decide to cosign the agreement have a number of responsibilities. Below are a list and explanation of each:

  • Financially Responsible for the Bond – if the accused does not attend court on their designated date, the cosigner is responsible for the bond.
  • Proof of Collateral – not everyone has access to monetary funds for the bail bond. In the case that monetary funds are not sufficient, the cosigner must also prove other means of collateral such as jewelry, a car, or house.
  • Release Conditions – another responsibility is ensuring that the accused is complying with their release conditions. This means being present during drug tests and analysis.
  • Cancellation of the Bond – the cosigner can cancel their obligation to the agreement and the bond. In this case, the accused returns to jail.

The above are the main obligations that one has when cosigning a bail bond agreement. However, depending on the bail bond company chosen, these conditions can vary slightly. For full clarification, contact your bail bonds company so you are aware of the terms of their specific contract.

Contact a Bail Bonds Company

To help a loved one get out of jail and to become a cosigner, contact a bail bonds company right away. A bail bonds company is able to help your loved one get the funds that they need to be jail free before their trial. As a cosigner, you are making one of the best decisions possible for a loved one. While it may be a slight sacrifice, it is an especially wise decision because it helps those that are not guilty regain the freedom that they should have before they are put on trial.

How Bail Bonds Work

A bail bond is a written promise that the jailed defendant who is named in the document will return to court for the trial date. It may be issued by the defendant him- or herself, by family or friends, or by a bondsman. The bond allows the defendant to be released from jail and to remain free until the specified date.

How the Bond Works

When the bond is posted, the court clerk issues a document to the police, indicating that the bail has been posted. Upon receipt of the document, the police will grant bail to the defendant. For a defendant who is judged to be a bad risk to return to court, perhaps because of numerous arrests, bail may be denied. A good risk would be a defendant without a prior criminal record who has lived for some time in the community.

Bail Bondsman

Many defendants are unable to post bail for themselves, so they or a friend or relative may contact a bail bondsman to get the defendant out of jail. The bondsman’s bail bond guarantees payment of the specified amount in the event that the defendant does not return to court on the court-ordered date. The money named in the bond is actually the guarantee that the newly released person will show up in court.

Guarantees Cost Money

The last thing a bail bondsman wants is a defendant who does not show up in court on the specified date. To help defray such a possibility, the bondsman charges the defendant or a member of the family or friend a percentage of the total cash amount of the bond, usually about 10%, such as $1,000 for a $10,000 bond. However, what happens if the defendant does indeed not show? In most states, the bondsman has the right to track down the person and bring him or her to court. Five states – Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oregon, and Wisconsin – have laws against posting bail for profit, which makes the bail bondsman’s job illegal.

When a person has been arrested and faces time in jail, the advantage of the bail bondsman is obvious, and it is expressed in one word: time. Most people, no matter what the charge when arrested, have the same first and obvious desire, to get out of jail as quickly as possible. So, what the bondsman sells is time. It may be in the middle of the morning or the middle of the night, but time is the bondsman’s biggest asset. The good bondsman delivers the money quickly, and the defendant goes free – until the specified date.

In some instances and under some circumstances, a defendant may be required to post other collateral, such as the mortgage on a house, in addition to a bail bond. Once the bond has been issued, it is said to be “exonerated” upon the defendant’s conviction or acquittal. If the defendant “jumps bail,” meaning he or she does not show up at the specified court time, the bail bond is forfeited.