On Monday Google announced they would no longer allow ads for bail bonds services.
Today, we’re announcing a new policy to prohibit ads that promote bail bond services from our platforms. Studies show that for-profit bail bond providers make most of their revenue from communities of color and low income neighborhoods when they are at their most vulnerable, including through opaque financing offers that can keep people in debt for months or years.
We made this decision based on our commitment to protect our users from deceptive or harmful products, but the issue of bail bond reform has drawn support from a wide range of groups and organizations who have shared their work and perspectives with us, including the Essie Justice Group, Koch Industries, Color of Change and many civil and human rights organizations who have worked on the reform of our criminal justice system for many years.
It seems like a half-baked move. It would seem that yes policy change may be needed. However it is not the bail bonds agents who arrest people for trivial charges nor do bail bonds agents set the bond prices for the arrested.
As economist Robert Wenzel notes:
I am really scratching my head on this one.
Bail bond providers do not set bail, they simply provide the bail that the courts require. To eliminate advertising by bail bond providers simply makes it more difficult for those who desire to bail someone out. Indeed, by limiting advertising opportunities, it makes bail bond financing even more opaque.
Like all businesses bail bonds agents success by serving their customers well. This especially helps in repeat business. Bail bonds cannot give discounts to the arrested as the bail fee is set by the state. So they have to compete on service like the rest of us.
This move won’t help those arrested get out of jail any quicker and get back to work so they can pay bills and deal with the fallout of being arrested.