A Quick Look at the History of Bail Bonds

Bail bonds hold a rich history in the United States and Texas. With constant talks and concerns over bail reform in the Lone Star State, we think it’s important to take a step back and examine how far the industry has come over time and what these reform efforts actually mean.


The bail process has never been a clean-cut system, but it has definitely had its fair share of progress over the years. Let’s take a step back and examine the history of bail bonds and how it has changed over time.


Why is Bail a Thing?

The modern bail system has its roots in 13th century England. Before bail, getting arrested meant dealing with  rampant bribery and arbitrary imprisonment within the criminal justice system. Bail presented a brighter alternative that didn’t always lead to staring blankly at a cell wall for weeks.


The original form of bail allowed accused individuals to secure temporary release from custody by posting money or property as collateral, effectively serving as a financial guarantee to ensure their appearance at future court proceedings. This practice proved revolutionary because it provided a means for people across different economic strata to avoid extended pre-trial incarceration.


By formalizing a process of posting bail, the system aimed to extend a measure of fairness and due process to the accused, upholding the principle of presumed innocence until proven guilty.

While the specifics of the bail process have evolved over time, but the fundamental concept of allowing conditional release through monetary surety remains a cornerstone of modern bail practices.


When Did Bail Hit the States?

The history of bail in the United States wasn’t as simple as making changes after the American Revolutionary War. In fact, our founding fathers didn’t start making changes to the bail system until 1789, with the Judiciary Act of  1789.


This act made all non-capital crimes bailable. Capital crimes meant that the offender was detained at the judge’s discretion.


What is Bail Reform?

Bail reform refers to a broad push to restructure the existing bail system in order to address perceived inequities and injustices. At its core, the movement seeks to reduce the number of people held in pre-trial detention simply because they cannot afford to pay bail amounts determined by outdated bail schedules and cash requirements.


Reformers argue that this wealth-based detention model runs counter to the presumption of innocence and discriminates against low-income defendants, keeping them jailed while allowing wealthy individuals arrested for the same crimes to secure release.


History of Bail Reform

Yes, the bail system has been in place for centuries, but that doesn’t mean it’s remained stagnant up to today. Currently, there is a debate over modern bail reforms.

We’re going to look at two of the biggest reform acts our industry has seen and how they have shaped the process that so many people across Fort Worth trust when they wind up behind bars. Then, we’ll take a peek at the current reform attempts.

Bail Bonds in 1966

The Bail Reform Act of 1966 was the first piece of legislation to bring about a major change in our practices. Before this legislation was passed, money always had to be put up in order to get out on bail.

However, with this legislation, being released on your own recognizance became possible for people who had committed minor crimes or have no previous criminal record. This means that with a written promise signed by the defendant, they can be released as long as they attend their court appearances.

However, keep in mind that this type of release is only possible if the courts deem your situation appropriate.

Bail Bonds in 1984

The Bail Reform Act of 1984 repealed the Bail Reform Act of 1966. So, what did this legislation for bail change? This legislation kept the execution of a money bond for pre-trial release. However, it authorized judicial officers to consider the safety of a person or the community when determining a pre-trial release.

According to this act, someone can be detained without bail if they’ve committed a very serious crime, are deemed a flight risk, or a risk to the community.

Bail Bonds Between 2019-2021

Across the nation, momentum has been building to dismantle the cash bail system, with two of the most high-profile initiatives taking place in New York and California.


In 2019, New York state enacted sweeping bail reform legislation that effectively eliminated monetary bail requirements for most misdemeanor charges and non-violent felony offenses. The underlying rationale behind this overhaul was to curb the practice of pretrial incarceration for individuals accused of lower-level crimes, which disproportionately impacted marginalized communities.


On the opposite coast, California took a different route in addressing similar concerns. In 2021, a landmark decision by the state’s Supreme Court ruled that setting bail at unaffordable levels violated constitutional protections, essentially deeming wealth-based detention unconstitutional.


However, despite the ambitious nature of these reform efforts, early assessments suggest that their intended positive impacts have yet to materialize. These sobering findings have reignited debates surrounding the efficacy and unintended consequences of such sweeping bail overhauls.


Affordable Bail With Big Bubba’s Bail Bonds

Now that you know the history of bail and bail reform, you have a better idea of how helpful bail bonds are if you’ve been arrested in Fort Worth, Texas. At Big Bubba’s Bail Bonds, we are open 24/7 and are ready to help you make any bail at any cost.


Ready to start the process? Contact us today to get yourself a step closer to freedom.


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