Society has not always had a surefire way to get someone out of jail. Before the justice and criminal law systems became as intricate and complicated as they are today, there were different ways of dealing with those who had the misfortune of winding up in jail. Though crime has always been an issue throughout human history, ways of dealing and punishing wrongdoers have evolved over time.
As any business should acknowledge the history of their practice, 007 Bail Bonds thought it would be appropriate to take a look at the history of bail bonds in the United States. As a premier bail bond company in the South Carolina area, 007 Bail Bonds offers affordable bail bonds services to help out your loved ones or other valued people in your life if they are caught in a sticky situation. Our bond company is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to get people the freedom that they deserve, but let’s go back to when the criminal justice system treated things a little differently.
A Young America
As it turns out, crime was on the rise when the new world was beginning to develop from its infancy. Rather than invent a brand-new criminal justice system for itself, it was actually easier for the United States to adapt the English criminal system to help manage the rampant levels of crime going around.
Taking many elements of the British justice system, America was able to progressively establish its own criminal justice system that worked to provide an affordable means of release from jail. Criminals could have a second shot at re-integrating back into society, with the hope that they would be more productive, healthier and respectful members of society.
Back to Medieval England
When we’re looking at the history of nearly anything in the United States, we have to go back and look at England first. In medieval England, it was discovered that people that were accused of crimes would do whatever they could to avoid facing the court system and the potential punishments that accompanied their crimes. Sadly, in medieval times, criminal punishments utilized torture-based methods that are widely considered cruel, unusual and inhumane by today’s modern standards. Punishments back then included water torture and burning at the stake, so you really can’t blame these convicted criminals for not wanting to show up to their demise.
Back then, it was a struggle keeping criminals locked up until trial because there was no magistrate in the local town and it could be a month or even longer before a judge would hold court to determine their fate. Therefore, local sheriffs struggled to find any room to these vandals, traitors, and wrongdoers. To help control the situation, sheriffs would use the threat of water torture to help assure that anyone released from overcrowded jails would show up for trial.
The local sheriff would also usually have the primary decision of who to release from jail. At the time, local sheriffs were granted a lot of authority by the ruling king. Thus, the local sheriff had the power to decide the fate of any and all criminals based on the relative severity of the crime. As a primitive form of a justice system, this sheriff authority certain came with its problems and potential for corruption, with a tendency for local sheriffs to exploit the system for their own personal gain. The system, at the time, proved to be less than perfect.
Statute of Westminster
In 1275, Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster to remove some of the temptation from sheriffs to exploit the system for personal profit. The statute specifically listed which crimes were bailable offenses and which ones were not. Once this was enforced, there were no changes made to the criminal justice system for quite some time – hundreds of years. Though the potential for corruption in the justice system had been slightly reduced, the system was certainly less-than-perfect and still relatively primitive compared to our modern day justice system.
Eventually, Bail Progress Is Made
While there were no further issues brought up about the right to bail and a trial, what is considered one of the most valuable laws passed to date occurred many centuries after the Statute of Westminster. This law was instituted by the U.S. Congress in the form of the Bail Reform Act of 1966. While this is quite a jump in bail bonds history, this Bail Reform Act is an extremely important and notable milestone in the history of bail bonds in the United States, even though it was still far from perfect at the time.
Under the Bail Reform Act of 1966, magistrates were required to release those accused of violating federal law without requiring any financial bond unless it was determined from the facts of a given case that additional conditions of release were necessary. If, after a thorough examination of these facts, it was determined that certain conditions of release were necessary to assure the defendant’s attendance at future court appearances, the magistrate could then order that some sort of secured bail bond be posted.
Flaws in the Bail Reform Act of 1966
Essentially, the Bail Reform Act of 1966 meant that a defendant facing trial for a non-capital offense should be released ‘on his personal recognizance’ or on a personal bond. However, if the court had a reason to believe that this defendant was going to skip town, then the judge would choose a more restrictive alternative such as limiting the defendant’s travel and executing an ‘appearance bond’ that would be refunded when the defendant appeared in court.
After the act was published, the District of Columbia identified a number of flaws in the act, including the defendant’s potential risk to the community for non-capital offenses. This became an issue when defendants were released for non-capital offenses and were committing even more crimes when they got out of jail, effectively defeating the purpose of the criminal justice system.
Consequently, a revision was made. Four years later, the District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 1970 made it so that judges could consider the danger that a given criminal posed to the community, in addition to the risk of flight when setting bail for non-capital cases.
Further Justice Refinement
Eventually, the federal justice system had their say in the matter and added the ‘safety of the community’ as a factor to be considered when imposing bail. This became the Bail Reform Act of 1984, which was a much more reasonable set of legal guidelines when it came to bail bonds and criminal law.
Though the history of bail bonds and the criminal justice system goes in far more depth, having a basic understanding of the history of bail bonds is important. Here at 007 Bail Bonds, we offer South Carolina a quality, comprehensive series of bail bond services. Though acknowledging history is important, our practices are of course in accordance with modern criminal law. Contact us today if you’re in need of bail bond services in South Carolina.