New Bill Seeks to Eliminate Excessive Bail Bond Fees

AB 1347 Will Protect Against Predatory Tactics

For immediate release:

(Sacramento - February 24, 2021) – Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D–South Los Angeles) and Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) introduced Assembly Bill 1347, sponsored by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, to eliminate the bail industry’s practice of charging add-on premiums through “renewal fees.” AB 1347 protects against predatory tactics used to inflate costs that economically burden the financially challenged. “Renewal fees” are additional nonrefundable fees arbitrarily charged to defendant’s that have not had their cases resolved within 12 months. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, these additional fees have become even more burdensome for defendant’s who have been impacted by hearing timelines and postponements of their cases.

"This is about racial and economic justice. Blacks and Latinos are far more likely than their white counterparts to remain in prison simply because these added fees make it financially impossible to post bail. Money/Cash bail remains one of the most egregious racial disparities in our justice system," said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer.

 “The march for criminal justice reform has never been more critical,” said Senator Bob Hertzberg.  “I am excited to join with the California Insurance Commissioner and the Assembly Public Safety Chair in this next step.”

"Bail companies are taking thousands of dollars in nonrefundable 'renewal fees' from accused people just because their court cases are delayed during the pandemic, not because they are at greater risk of flight," said Commissioner Lara, who regulates the bail bond insurance industry. "AB 1347 stops the for-profit bail industry's latest money grab from low-income Californians that lines their pockets while doing nothing to protect public safety."

Assembly Bill 1347 would make it a crime for bail agents to charge bail bond renewal fees and would provide recourse for those forced to pay renewal fees by allowing them to collect damages for any violation. AB 1347 will be added to the California Penal Code.

As California continues to debate broader bail system reforms, this bill will help secure additional protections needed to safeguard the public at-large, especially vulnerable communities, who have historically paid more while engaged with the court system.  When individuals are unable to pay bail the resulting extensive lock-up time often leads to the loss of employment and the inability to care for family members.

“As the Chair of the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, it is my priority that poverty and predatory business practices don’t get in the way of justice; socio-economic status should have no bearing on equal treatment under the law,” added Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer.

Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer represents the communities of South Los Angeles, Florence-Firestone, Walnut Park, Huntington Park and Exposition Park. For more information about Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer, please visit https://a59.asmdc.org/  Contact: Richard.Garcia@asm.ca.gov