The Invisible Hand of For Profit Bail

My name is Forest Miles. I am currently a third year law student at Santa Clara University. Prior to beginning my studies at Santa Clara University, I obtained my B.S. in Physics from San Jose State University.  This background has led me to my current field of work – patent prosecution. Throughout the course of my law school career, I have engaged in multiple projects pertaining to human rights work.  In particular, I have participated in several clinical programs offered by Santa Clara where I gained hands on exposure to human rights work.  For example, I have had the opportunity to prepare participants for a thematic hearing with the Inter-American Commission.  I have also co-authored an amicus curiae brief for a case before the Inter-American Court.

This semester, I am seeking to tie together my human rights experience with another interest of mine – criminal law.  Criminal law and policy is becoming increasingly intertwined with human rights issues.  For example, the United States is facing increasing pressure by human rights groups for its policies on solitary confinement, capital punishment, and life sentences for juveniles.  My focus, though, is on the United States’ nearly unique “for-profit,” or privatized, bail system.

Ideally, I would like to leverage my experience with various legal structures to analyze the for-profit bail system.  The bail industry is large, highly profitable, and arguably serves a public need.  Under closer examination, however, it is not clear that: the jobs created by the industry surpass an equivalent public model; the monetization creates competition, which drives better service for customers; the needs of our justice system are well met; or even that the industry accomplishes its most basic function, to ensure that those accused of crimes show up for trial.  Additionally, I will examine the public policy motivations and detractions behind monetizing the pretrial release of the presumptively innocent defendants in our criminal justice system.