The report said the bail system costs taxpayers far less.

As Florida lawmakers consider expanding pre-trial release programs, a new University of Tampa study suggests that the cost could be prohibitive.

David Krahl, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice, said sticking with bail will save the justice system considerable dollars.

His study shows surety bonds cost the state almost nothing. Other forms of unsecured pretrial release, meanwhile, cost more than $95 million over a three-year period.

“The notion that large numbers of defendants are languishing away in jail simply because they cannot afford the cost of a surety bond to secure their pretrial release is sheer fiction,” Krahl said.

The professor presented his findings last month to the Professional Bail Agents of the United States. Now, bail bondsmen in Florida are pointing to the data as one more sign that reform remains unnecessary.

But state Sen. Jeffrey Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, disagrees. He continues to make the case for pre-trial release.

His legislation (SB 534) already passed through the Senate Criminal Justice Committee unanimously. It now heads to Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice.

Brandes has maintained establishment of a supervised bond program will allow law enforcement to manage jail populations. It will also allow incarcerated individuals to return to families and jobs faster.

“It will be a great tool for everybody,” Brandes said. “It will help sheriffs manage jail populations, and it will help individuals get back to life quicker.”

That also means less will be spent on bail bonds, which brings obvious financial consequence for the industry.

But bail bondsmen say it’s not just self-interest driving their opposition. In fact, they say bail continues to be the best option for many low-level offenders.

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