Pretrial release is when a defendant is released on their own recognizance to return to their future court appearances as opposed to posting a bail bond. Pre-trial release might sound good in theory, but when accountability is placed only on the defendant and no monitoring is involved, the chances of that defendant returning for their court appearance goes down greatly. Pretrial release is normally a local government entity that releases criminal defendants from jail, at no cost to the defendant. Local tax dollars fund Pre-Trial Release programs.
The average program has a budget in excess of $1 million. It was first used for less-serious crimes when a defendant couldn’t afford bail. Now it is used in violent cases even if the defendant can afford bail. The Pretrial Release “program” is supposed to make sure the defendants show up in court. Many do not and are still fugitives after one year. When a defendant does not appear, no one is held financially responsible. If the defendant fails to appear it is up to local law enforcement to locate them and bring them back to court at the local taxpayer’s expense.
Bail on the other hand provides a set amount of money that has to be paid by the bondsman if the defendant fails to appear in court. In general, a person can pay a bondsman a portion of the bail amount in order to secure release for the defendant with the promise to pay the full amount if the defendant fails to appear in court. If bail bonds companies have more than 5 percent of their clients fail to appear in court then they will go out of business! The potential of paying the full bond amount to the court by either the bail bondsman or the cosigners on the bail bond puts pressure on everyone involved to get the defendant to be sure to show up in court.
It is simple really the financial obligation imposed by the cash bail system makes people go to court.
See also the video about the pitfalls of pre-trial release.