Profiting Off Misery
Over the past few decades, the number of Americans incarcerated in jails has swelled, contributing significantly to the nation’s mass incarceration crisis. On any given day, more than 400,000 people are in jail even though they have not been convicted of a crime. They are detained before trial, many because they cannot afford cash bail. Courts have told them they can return home if they post money bail to secure their release, but more often than not, they simply can’t afford the cost of freedom. This crisis has become so severe that one in five people incarcerated in America today are pretrial detainees who have not been convicted of a crime. When people cannot afford the cost of bail, they often turn to a for-profit bail bond company—which can secure their release for a nonrefundable fee.
Private equity firm Endeavour Capital—backed by large public pension funds, university endowments, and foundations—owns Aladdin Bail Bonds, the largest bail bond company in the United States, and Seaview Insurance, a related insurer. Despite growing concern from the public and public officials about the harms caused by for-profit bail, Endeavour has stood by its investment in Aladdin. Relying on public investment dollars, Endeavour Capital has expanded Aladdin Bail Bonds to several additional states. It has also spent millions of dollars lobbying to expand for-profit bail to states where it is against the law and fighting efforts to reform the predatory system. This report lays out the impact of the investment of taxpayer money into Endeavour capital, and the case for divestment.