General Sessions Court Judge David Bales said in some cases he is now allowing defendants to post cash bonds rather than going through the traditional system involving bail bond agents.
He said he has used the cash bonds in several situations where the defendants had prior court cases and owed the county a significant amount of fines and court costs.
Judge Bales said the system gives defendants the impetus to come up with the case, and it brings in much-needed income for the county. When the defendant has fulfilled his commitment on the bond, the amount he or she owes the county for fines or court costs is deducted from the amount that is rebated.
The judge said, "There are a lot of county needs, including schools, and this helps take the burden off the taxpayer."
He said other judges are considering the cash bond option as well and others have used the new method.
Judge Bales said the bonding companies are supposed to have defendants pay 10 percent of the amount of the bond. But he said some bonding companies undercut that rate, allowing defendants with higher bonds to get out by paying an amount much below the standard 10 percent.
He said, "You would be surprised when you offer a lower cash bond how quick some of the defendants are able to come up with the money. A grandmama finds it under her pillow or his buddies are able to round up the money to get him out."