Bail is a process by which a defendant pays a set amount of money to obtain release from police custody. In exchange for release from custody, a defendant promises to appear in court for all of his or her scheduled criminal proceedings. If the defendant shows up to court as promised, the bail amount is returned.

Those who cannot afford to post the full bail amount often take out high-interest, short-term loans through a lender known as a bail bondsman. If a person’s bail is set at $10,000, the bail bonds lender would typically pocket $1,000, even if the accused person follows the letter of the law and shows up for court as scheduled.

This practice is illegal in most of the world, but has become a multi-billion-dollar business in the United States.

Unfortunately, California's current Bail-For-Profit system has created a lucrative, for-profit wing of the American justice system. It unfairly criminalizes poverty, while lining the pockets of insurance companies and short-term, predatory lenders who take advantage of those in dire straits and cannot afford to buy their freedom.