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Insurance Firms ‘Corrupt’ U.S.

System: Report
By TCR Staff | May 11, 2017

Just nine insurance companies underwrite the majority of bonds issued in the U.S.,
fueling a for-profit enterprise that has “corrupted” America’s judicial system, charges the
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a report released today in collaboration with
the Color of Change organization, a nonprofit group which promotes racial justice.

These insurers, responsible for most of the $14 billion in bail bonds issued in the U.S.
each year, “operate with little risk—even leading some of them to boast of going years
without paying any losses,” said the report, entitled “Selling Off Our Freedom: How
Insurance Corporations have taken over our Bail System.”

Most of the companies operate out of tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda,
and “their executives operate far from the influence of the people and communities over
whom they hold so much power,” the report said.

 Sobre as quais detêm tanto poder

 Assumir o controle
 Emitir/emitido
 Título / -> empreendimento

As a result, says the report, “The bail industry has corrupted our constitutional freedoms
for profit: the freedom from exploitation in bail, the guarantee of being recognized as
innocent until proven guilty, and the guarantee of the equal application of the law to all

Alternatives to money bail have increasingly drawn (atraído cada vez mais) the attention
of criminologists and local authorities.

Another report, released this spring by the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M
University, which examined the effect of various bail strategies in two Texas counties,
found growing support from Texas judges for an automated risk assessment (avaliação)
tool (ferramenta) that employs an algorithm to assign numerical risks to individual
defendants, based on their previous criminal history and personal circumstances.

The report cited a 2016 survey (pesquisa) that showed four out of five judges in 174
Texas counties admit they make decisions on bail based on information that is often
“unreliable.” More than half said they would prefer some form of automated risk
assessment to guarantee court appearance and prevent future criminal activity instead of
money bail

The report, ordered by the Texas Judicial Council’s Criminal Justice Committee,
compared criminal case data from the two Texas counties over a 3 ½ year period: Tarrant
County, where pretrial release is dependent on financial bond; and Travis County, which
uses a validated risk assessment to identify low-risk defendants without financial
requirements for release.

Authors of the report concluded that the Travis County approach was not only fairer, but
resulted in less cost to local authorities, with no impact on public safety

“When personal bond is automatic for low-risk individuals, financial ability (capacidade
financeira) is effectively removed as an obstacle to release,” the study said. “Ten times
more people are freed on non-financial terms, and fewer people remain in detention
because of inability to pay a low bond.”

The report made clear that “judicial discretion” (discricionariedade judicial) remained
key to bail decisions. But it cited the results of the survey, noting that fewer than one in
give judges described the defendant data now available for their consideration as “very
reliable.” Moreover (Além disso), most (55%) named the lack (falta/carência) of
validated risk assessment instruments as a specific obstacle to informed decision-making

The statewide survey tabulated the responses of 605 judges representing 174 of the state’s
254 counties. (Over 1,900 were sent the survey).

The survey underlined the report’s key finding that “without risk information available,
the financial bail system released 12% more potentially dangerous people and detained
24% more people who could have been safely released.”

Many jurisdictions around the U.S. already use a tool called the Ohio Risk Assessment
System-Pretrial Assessment Tool (ORAS-PAT), which gathers objective information
about each individual and generates a score indicating risk of flight or new criminal
activity. But Travis County has introduced an automated Public Safety Assessment tool
created by researchers supported by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which many
say provides more reliable information.

While some criminologists have argued the tool has defects, the report said that it allowed
Texas judges to “confidently” make more accurate custody decisions that allow for the
detention of high-risk defendants and release of those who can be safely released.

The researchers said that in general, “the costs of a risk-informed pretrial release system
are more than offset by savings that occur when defendants are properly classified.”

The study, entitled “Liberty and Justice: Pretrial Practices in Texas,” was prepared
by Dottie Carmichael, Ph.D.;George Naufal, Ph.D.;Steve Wood, Ph.D.;Heather Caspers,
M.A.;and Miner P. Marchbanks, III, Ph.D.—all of the Public Policy Research Institute
at Texas A&M University.

The full Texas A&M report is available here.