Rules, Regulations and Response: Looking at the Santa Clara County Bail Industry

The bail bond industry plays a prominent role in our criminal justice system; my research and writing will explore this industry within Santa Clara County. First, I will look at the local bail bond market. Who are the major players, and how much money is involved? Second, I will be researching the rules and regulations that bail bond agencies must follow.  What are the rules on solicitation of clients? How much can bail agencies charge? What laws must bounty hunters follow? And finally, I will be talking with our local Santa Clara County bail agents themselves. How do they choose their clients? How do they compete with one another? What changes would they like to see in our current bail system? My ultimate goal here is to summarize the current statutes and regulations governing the local bail bond industry, and find out how the industry follows and responds to those regulations. This is important, because before we can advocate for changing our for-profit bail bond system, we need to have a full picture of how that system operates, and what legal gaps need to be filled.

I’m Shauna Lord, a second year law student at Santa Clara University School of Law. I am interested in pursuing a career in social justice and public service. I am currently working as a law clerk at the Dependency Advocacy Center, which provides legal representation to indigent clients involved with the child welfare system of Santa Clara County.  Working at this non-profit organization, I see indigent clients who face racism, homelessness, drug addiction, and domestic violence. I am interested in the bail industry because of its effect on these vulnerable clients. I am excited to be a part of this project, and hope to learn what change is needed to further the cause of justice.