Terrell Marshall and the ACLU Take On the Flawed For-Profit Bail System
UPDATE: Court rules provisions of form bail contract unenforceable as against public policy. The unfair provisions voided by the Court required consumers to pay for any injuries caused by aggressive bounty hunting tactics and pay the bounty hunters’ and bail industry’s legal fees. Find the Court’s order here. Court rules nearly all claims may proceed against sureties (find the Court’s Order here.) As the court states in its Order, “Allegheny and Fidelity created the environment that bred these acts by providing First Call with a form contract which authorized this conduct and by requiring First Call to bear the financial risk of forfeiture.”
On April 17, 2019, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Montana, and Terrell Marshall Law Group filed a lawsuit against private entities — bail bondsmen, bounty hunters, and insurance companies — who profit off our country’s exploitative, for-profit bail system.
In April of 2017, Eugene Mitchell and his wife Shayleen Meuchell were in bed with their then four-year-old daughter when a team of six bounty hunters from the Montana Civil Assistance Group broke down their front door. They charged into Mitchell and Meuchell’s bedroom with guns and rifles drawn to arrest Mitchell, who had inadvertently missed a court hearing a few days before for two misdemeanor traffic charges.
Mitchell and his family are bringing claims for assault, trespassing, false imprisonment, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, as well as violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and the Montana Consumer Protection Act.
Mitchell’s case is indicative of a much larger problem in this country: a for-profit bail industry that preys on the most vulnerable people. Across the U.S. today, roughly 440,000 people — 70 percent of people incarcerated in jail at any given time — are there pre-trial, often because they can’t afford to pay a bail requirement set for their freedom. The United States and Philippines are the only two nations in the world that permit for-profit bail.
The ACLU’s press release is available here.
Read more here:
April 17, 2019: ACLU Takes on Bounty Hunters in Bail-Bond Case
Courthouse News Service
April 18, 2019: ACLU Montana Sues Bail Bond Industry Under Organized Crime Law
Montana Public Radio