Stark County Officials Rethinking Bond System


The above article gives a good overview of the current bond situation in regards in Stark county and domestic violence cases pending as of the end of 2015. What is interesting and of some note is that fact that of those offenders currently on bond, the vast majority were on an unsecured bond through the pretrial supervision program. What the article fails to point out is what an unsecured bond is and that calling it a “bond” is actually very misleading to the general public. Those on the pretrial release program have had to put off no money and require no cosigner. In essence, it is a signature bond with a condition of a weekly check into the pretrial services program either by phone or in person. While this sort of “bond” does require some form of follow up on the part of the defendant, if they fail to comply with the conditions of the program there is no one to hold accountable for the bond monetary if the defendant fails to appear, hence why it is called an “unsecured” bond. In addition, the pretrial release program has neither the authority nor the mandate to return the defendants to custody. A bench warrant is simply issued and the defendant is free to roam about till apprehended by law enforcement or (as is often the case) is rearrested for a new crime.

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It is possible that at least a portion of the 25% mentioned as being wanted on an open warrant fall into this category. It is very misleading to state that these defendants are out on bond in the same way that those that post a surety or even a 10% deposit are. There are zero consequences for those that fail to appear under the pretrial model. Those on a surety bond are either returned or the full face amount of the bond is paid to the court, hence a huge incentive to apprehend the defendant. Even those released under a 10% deposit face the loss of the deposit, as well as whoever, put up the money potentially being required to pay the entire face amount of the bond, though this is not often the case there is still some consequence for nonappearance.

Lumping an unsecured bond into the same mold as surety is hugely misleading to the general public as no money has actually exchanged hands and in most cases, no one is in any way responsible if the defendant fails to appear. This is the sort of omission that needs to be pointed out in the future in article’s such as this that take a closer look at the system and how the bond system actually functions in practice rather than theory.

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