There’s no doubt that businesses all over the world are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With massive changes ahead, businesses are doing their best to navigate all the financial and operational challenges that this pandemic has brought.
The criminal justice system is also facing other sets of challenges. Jails and prisons are an ideal breeding ground for the spread of COVID-19. Most jails are short-staffed and overcrowded. If a significant number of incarcerated people get the virus, it will overwhelm the healthcare systems. Because of this, county jails and prisons are pushing for fewer arrests to help curb the spread of the virus.
Since the number of people on the streets is down, it means lesser court appearances are happening right now. With cases slowing down, bail bond agents, who help people in the process of posting bail, are experiencing a significant slowdown in business.
These are uncharted waters for bail bond agencies! With no bonds to post, a lot of local bail bond companies have had to close down and lay off their employees. For others who are still operating their business, some local bondsmen are posting less than the bonds they usually would have posted.
In Colorado, here’s how the courts and corrections department are making adjustments as a response to slow down the progression of the virus:
- Law Enforcement Arresting Fewer People
In Boulder and Denver, law enforcement is limiting the number of people they are arresting, especially when it comes to low-level crimes. This is to minimize the risk of introducing the coronavirus to jails in Colorado. Police officers are now issuing summons instead of arresting to maintain public safety while protecting the health of jail’s staff and inmates. Receiving a summons could still get one face charges, but in the meantime, they will not be taken into custody.
For run-ins with the law, it is still best to contact a Colorado bail bondsman so you can be released from jail at the soonest possible time.
- Utilizing Personal Recognizance Bonds
Under current Colorado laws, no monetary bail is set for certain low-level offenses. If a person is charged with a petty offense, class 3 misdemeanor, or any unclassified offense, they may be set free on a personal recognizance bond. Some examples include:
- a traffic offense that does not involve death or injury
- petty theft
- public intoxication
- disorderly conduct
Of course, this move draws a lot of concern. Many would argue if reducing bail to $0 is the right thing to do. While this move is done for health safety inside jails and prisons, there is also a significant reason that the massive scale of releases can threaten public safety.
Following the efforts to reduce the jail population, more than 100 people have been released from Boulder County Jail by utilizing personal recognizance bonds. This has a huge implication to bail bonds agencies in Colorado. With more people being released through personal recognizance, bail bondsmen will have to find other ways to navigate through these difficult circumstances.
- Early Release of Prisoners
Under the governor’s executive order, the Colorado prison system has relaxed the standards for the release of inmates. Since the community quarantine has started, more inmates and prisoners are being released to prevent an outbreak in prisons. The executive order was also intended to help jail staff to create more space for the inmates to practice social distancing. While this order has barely made a difference to reduce the population in jails and prisons, it has still affected bail bond companies. With this rapid release of prisoners, there is less need for bail bonds services in Colorado.
- Suspension of Low-Level Technical Parole Violations
The Colorado Department of Corrections sent out a press release stating the temporary suspension of arrests for low-level technical parole violations. Technical parole violations may include:
- Broken curfew
- Unauthorized contact with victims
- Failure to report to a parole officer
- Failure to pass a drug test
- Moving to a new place without permission
Usually, a technical parole violation can get one re-arrested and returned to state prison. However, with the current circumstances, only those who have serious technical violations, such as escaping or committing a violent crime while on parole, will be re-arrested.
What do these mean for the bail bond industry?
The state of bail bonds in Colorado is still relatively fine. But with many offenders getting out of jail without bail money, it can potentially cripple the bail bond industry on a certain level. Nevertheless, bail bonds will continue since bail is still necessary for felony charges and high-risk offenders. With all the adjustments made by Colorado courts and corrections department, this could lead to:
- Reduced bail bond premiums
To continue operating, some bail bond agencies may have to reduce their standard bail bond premiums. Usually, you will need to pay about 10 to 15% of the total bail amount to the bail agent. In this challenging time, some bail bond agents are now agreeing to post less than that amount to continue bailing people out.
- Lower bond for other crimes
On a lighter note, the relaxation of bail money could also mean more customers for bail bond agencies. There are a lot of inmates who have been in custody for a while because they have serious charges and cannot afford to post bail. Now that they can be given a reduced bail, these people can now afford to contact a bail bond agent to get them out.
- Shutdown of bail bond companies
The significant slowdown of business has caused the shutdown of some bail bond agencies. Many businesses are cutting costs, which means a considerable percentage of the 14,000 bail bond agents in the United States could get laid off.
Life is unpredictable, now more so than ever before. No one plans to go to jail, especially during a pandemic, but it can happen to anyone. Should you find yourself in this challenging situation, it is still best to work with an expert. Contact a trustworthy Colorado bondsman should you need to secure bail to get out of custody fast.
Call Lucero’s Bail Bonds today at 303-573-5555!