Virginia Jails' $3/day "Housing Fee" Makes Bail Cheaper Than Jail


Roanoke Times | File Photo 1999

Recently, the Roanoke Times published an article about the Rockbridge Regional Jail in Lexington, Virginia and how its commission has voted to implement a $3 daily "housing fee" for inmates. The fee was approved to raise additional money for the jail's yearly budget.


What most Virginians don't realize is that this daily fee charged to inmates is commonplace in Virginia jails. In fact, the Code of Virginia authorizes all jails to do so, and most do.


Interim Superintendent Derek Almarode was quoted as saying so in the Roanoke Times piece:

"The fee system is used in other Virginia regional jails, Almarode said."

And the superintendent is correct. Section 53.1-131.3, Code of Virginia, permits jails to charge each defendant $3.00 per day for every day they are incarcerated.


As we know, many times defendants languish in jail for up to a year (or longer) before their case comes to trial or a plea offer is made. Using that example of a one-year-long wait in the jail (365 days), the total amount of fees accrued would exceed $1,000. I'll say it again: one thousand dollars.


On the other hand, the average bail amount in Virginia is $3,000, which is a cost of $300 when using a bail bondsman. So in the case of that same defendant, whose trial is delayed for a year, he has two options:

  • He can remain in jail while paying $3/day, $1,095 total OR

  • He can post bail for $300, which comes out to 82 cents per day.

Now, if it wasn't already obvious enough which choice is in the best interest of the defendant, consider the fact that when the defendant posts bail, he has the ability to work. Even at minimum wage, he can pay off $0.82 per day in very little time.


Even without factoring in the lost wages from languishing in jail, it's easy to see that posting bail with a bondsman has enormous financial upside for criminal defendants. When you add in those lost wages and the other added benefits of being free, such as being in one's own home and with one's own family, the benefit of bail could not be clearer.


Even in cases where the defendant isn't in jail for a year, if he is in jail for around 3 months, he will have paid the same amount in fees to stay in jail as one would have to pay to post bail for the average bond amount in the state of Virginia ($300 for a $3,000 bond).


In my experience, owning and operating Apex Bail Bonds in Danville, the average bond amount for this part of the state is actually much lower than $3,000. Meaning the advantage that bail bond companies offer is even more pronounced.


Now that you have armed yourself with the information provided in this blog post, you know the advantages that bail bondsmen provide to their clients. And the next time that you hear someone say "bail hurts poor people," ask yourself if they have really done the research or whether they are just repeating something they heard from a pundit or in the street.


Bail saves people money, and it saves people their jobs.

Studies also show that defendants out on bail are significantly more likely to get their case dismissed or finalized with no criminal record, than those who remain in jail. But that's the topic of the next blog. Be sure to check back for those revealing statistics.


In the meantime, check out the Apex Bail Bonds Facebook page. Click "Like" and subscribe so you'll be sure to catch that next blog post I mentioned. Also feel free to check out the FAQ, or frequently asked questions, on the website to learn some "bail basics."


Until next time,

Fred

Owner/Agent

Apex Bail Bonds, LLC



Apex Bail Bonds is located at 509 Loyal St. in Danville, Virginia. Call (434)548-APEX to speak to a bondsman 24/7.

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