Currently the pretrial inmate is the sought after “customer” of the private sector commercial bail writer and the county taxpayer funded pretrial services agency.
But might there be a “set” of needs which could best be served if both providers were in the picture? If emotion is put aside and only the evidence is considered, the answer appears to be a resounding: “Yes”.
How would that work? Actually it is pretty simple. Defendants can have special needs, and it is in the best interests of that person’s well being and society’s desire that those needs be addressed that the problem be identified and treated. But despite this situation, that person returning to court so the criminal case can be disposed of is also important.
As it turns out, neither pretrial release staff nor the bail writer are equipped to meet both of these requirements. But if these separate functions; getting the special need identified and treated on the one hand and getting the person to court on the other are divided up, both the defendant and society win. Let pretrial services deal with the identity and treatment of special needs which they do best, and let the bail writers get the defendant to court, which they do best.
Bail writers are not experts in addressing the special needs a defendant may have, but it is also proven that pretrial services does a poor job of getting people to court. So, let each provider do what they do best.
Can this work? Absolutely. It has been very successful in Houston, Texas where courts routinely order the involvement of both professions. Defendants have their needs addressed while also making their required court appearances.
The pretrial services interviewer advises the court as to whether or not the defendant needs professional attention, and the court orders accordingly while also ordering the defendant released on a commercial bail bond. It works.
The system only breaks down when pretrial services insists on being the sole provider. If they simply do what they do best and allow the professional bail agent to do what she or he does best, everybody wins – including the defendant, the county, the pretrial services providers and the private sector.
What’s wrong with that?
Occam’s razor: “The simplest explanation is usually the best one.”
Jerry Watson, Chief Legal Officer of AIA, blogging about the legislative side of the bail bond industry. AIA (Allegheny Casualty, International Fidelity and Associated Bond) is the largest and oldest bail bond insurance company in the nation.
- Behind the Paper with Jerry Watson
- Jerry Watson serves as Chief Legal Officer to AIA, Senior Vice-President and Legal Counsel, Bail, at IFIC. He is the immediate past Chairman of the Private Enterprise Board of Directors of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – America’s largest bi-partisan state legislator member organization on whose board he has represented the commercial bail industry for the past 15 years. He has also served as General Counsel of the American Bail Coalition since its founding and is a member of the Bail Advisory Council of the Surety and Fidelity Association of America (SFAA). His undergraduate and law degrees are from Baylor University and he is a graduate of the National College of Criminal Defense Attorneys and Public Defenders. He has testified as an expert on bail in various state and federal cases, among them being the country’s largest bail related damage suits. In Jerry’s 42 years in the bail industry, always as an attorney, he has represented local retail agents, general agencies, insurance companies and insurance companies’ trade associations before state and federal courts and regulatory agencies.
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