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Photo: Eric Risberg / AP

The U.S. is one of only two countries in the world with a legal bail bonding industry, which allows bail bond companies to pay a defendant's bond in exchange for a fee (typically 15% of the bail price) when the defendant can't afford to pay the bail price and doesn't want to wait in jail until their trial.

Why it matters:

The bail system, which often favors those who are rich and hurts citizens who can't manage to scrape the hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars required for bail, is ripe for reform. Senators Kamala Harris and Rand Paul introduced a bipartisan bail reform bill earlier this year, which incentivizes states to reform their bail practices, but not much has come of it.

The facts:
  • The U.S. and the Philippines are the only two countries in which the commercial bail bond industry is legal.
  • In 2017, 70% of the 630,000 Americans in local jails have yet to be convicted, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.
  • The bail bond companies deal with about $14 billion in bonds each year, bringing in a total of $2 billion, according to a report by the Justice Policy Institute.
  • Part of the Eighth Amendment of the constitution says that ""excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed."
  • Bail is intended to ensure defendants show up for their trial. The money is returned to them when they do.
  • Not every possible offender is offered bail. To determine whether an accused person qualifies for bail, the judge will look at their physical and mental health, financial resources, family ties, drug and alcohol abuse, criminal history and their history of appearing at court.
  • If a bail is less than $2,000, bail bond companies aren't always able to make a profit and won't take up the case, leaving many people no other option but to wait in jail.

Go deeper

Pew: Over 80% of Asian adults say violence against them is increasing

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

More than 80% of Asian adults say that violence against them is increasing, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

The big picture: The survey, conducted April 5-11, comes after the recent shootings in Atlanta in which eight people, including six Asian women were killed, as well as a yearlong spike in hate incidents against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

Danger lurks in the Democrats' police talk

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats celebrate last June after they passed the George Floyd Policing Act. Photo: Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images

As Congress forges ahead with police reform legislation, Democratic operatives are warning lawmakers to steer clear of any defund-the-police rhetoric since it could hurt them in the midterms.

Why it matters: President Biden and his fellow Democrats say Congress needs to pass the George Floyd Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds, prohibit no-knock warrants and generally make it easier to hold officers accountable for misconduct.

Exclusive: Harris meets Guatemalan president Monday, travels in June

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet virtually Monday with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei to discuss solutions to the surge of migration, and she'll visit the region in June, a senior White House official told Axios.

Why it matters: The administration is taking a multi-pronged approach to solving the problem and also hopes to announce details about its plan for investing aid in Central America on Monday — although a final dollar amount has yet to be decided.