There have been a lot of significant changes in our world since the occurrence of coronavirus. Aside from health, which is the utmost priority of everyone, other aspects of human existence are also affected. Most businesses are experiencing a downturn, while millions of people have lost their jobs.
Nearly every sector of the economy worldwide was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the criminal justice system isn’t an exception. Some courts have been ordered to close for the time being and reduce the scope of their activities. Several police forces and courts also have to initiate new pandemic procedures to cope with the unprecedented situation.
Such changes have specifically influenced how a bail bond is carried out. But how does COVID-19 affect these bail bond processes?
COVID-19’s Impact On Prison Settings
Crowded jails and prisons have been one of the hotspots of COVID-19. In U.S. prisons alone, 120,000 COVID-19 cases and 1000 deaths have already been documented among inmates. Because of that, there has been a pressing need to reform the criminal justice system.
The following are some of the jurisdictions made in most countries to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on prison settings:
Reduce Prison Population
Social distancing is one of the most effective measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19. But the people in most prison settings aren’t able to do that and take other preventive measures, such as maintaining good hygiene. Moreover, soaps and hand sanitizers aren’t freely accessible inside the jail.
That alone proves the jails’ incapacity to contain the spread of coronavirus infection if they are fully occupied. It is safe to assume a heightened risk for everyone detained or incarcerated in a jail. In order to ensure that any prison setting doesn’t become an area for COVID-19 spread, the number of incarcerated people is reduced.
Thus, citations are encouraged rather than arrests for certain misdemeanors to limit the number of people incarcerated while the pandemic is ongoing. In several cases, only those who commit violent crimes are being arrested to lessen the number of prisoners.
Emergency Prison Release
The emergency release of people from prison is being implemented to reduce the spread of coronavirus. People who are detained for parole violations and those serving short sentences are released. Such an emergency release is also crucial for vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, pregnant, and immunocompromised.
This release scheme generally favors inmates who are considered to pose a low risk to public safety and those approaching the end of their sentence. Moreover, temporary release licenses with conditions may be issued to the offenders under these release schemes.
Besides wearing an electronic monitoring device, conditions may include staying at home, complying with COVID-19 precautions, observing a curfew, not committing new offenses, and much more. If such conditions are breached, their licenses may be revoked, and the individual would be re-imprisoned.
It’s essential to note, though, that judges are given the discretion to decide who is a public safety threat or a flight risk. They can decide to release the defendant without bail or a reduced cash bail or detain that person until trial.
Notable Effects On Bail Bonds Due To COVID-19
Because fewer people are being arrested, a small number of bonds are also written. Besides that, judges are setting very low to zero bail amounts for those who are arrested. The same applies to emergency releases where cash bail requirements are also waived.
Such a reduction of the prison population and acceleration release of prisoners with little or no cash bail due to COVID-19 has significantly decreased the need for bail bonds. Unfortunately, the changes in the prison systems haven’t only affected the amount of cash bail but the whole bail bond industry.
With few and no bonds to post, bail bond agents’ steady stream of income is also threatened. But on the positive side, there is a more important reason for the bail bond industry to provide bail bond services for those offenses not covered by the emergency bail rules.
How To Get A Bail Bond During A Pandemic?
The decreased need for bail bonds does not automatically mean that there’s no need to secure one. If someone you know is awaiting a trial in prison or gets arrested for an offense not covered by the emergency bail rules, getting them quickly out of jail is crucial due to the additional threat of COVID-19.
It wouldn’t hurt to prepare. Moreover, don’t rely too much on the judge’s discretion to decide for an emergency release. The process of getting a bail bond now is the same before the pandemic, but there’s an additional step that you might need to follow.
The first thing you need to do is find a bondsman whose services remained open amidst the pandemic. It’s worthy to note that the bail bond industry is part of the essential business during this crisis, so it wouldn’t be hard for you to find one.
The bondsman would be the one to process the bail bonds and help get your loved one out of jail as quickly as possible. Thus, you would need to provide them with all the necessary information about your incarcerated friend or family member. You may pay a percentage of the bond in cash while giving collateral to cover the remaining bond.
However, you need to ensure that your loved one shows for any hearing required by the court so you can get the collateral items back. No matter what the outcome of the case, you’ll be able to retake possession of those items as long as your loved one doesn’t miss any court hearings.
It’s also essential to make sure that your loved one gets adequate representation for their bail and bonds. Thus, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced and qualified attorney for a consultation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly made an impact on the prison system and the bail bond industry. Changes have to be made to respond to public and justice workers’ health and safety concerns. Being aware of these changes is crucial to know what to do if you or your loved one committed any offense during this crisis.