Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bail Bonds: Pretrial Services and Surety Bail as a Team?

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?

Jerryism #101
Occam’s razor: “The simplest explanation is usually the best one.”


  1. jerry - the pji, napsa, vera, pts colorado, etc ... ain't buying it. suggest you give this idea a second look.

  2. “Yeah, and, I’m hep to that. Of course those groups do not want to engage on the concept of shared responsibilities between the two camps for at least two reasons:

    One, their strong intention is the elimination of the private sector bail bonding business, because they see us as a competitor who outperforms them at every turn and so they perceive us as a threat to their future. And they should, as far as that “future” relates to monitoring for reappearance, because they have proven consistently that they fail miserably at this, and

    Two, they object to our presence on a purely philosophical ground: they think the defendant should not be incarcerated in the first place. How could they believe this? It’s simple; their rationale goes like this: the only reason the defendant got arrested is because society has failed that person. If we had been all to him that we should have been, he would never have broken the law. So, since he is in jail only because of us, how fair is it for “us” (society) to then make him pay “us” to get out of jail? The least we can do is pay for his release ourselves by having local taxpayers fund the county “free bail bond agency” to get him out. And really, it does’nt matter that he does’nt return to court, because this whole criminal charges thing is not his fault – it is our’s.

    So there you have it, an; the other side will never be willing to enter dialogue on the notion of them doing what they can do best and leaving the return to court work to us. But, if our side is in agreement that the idea has merit and we “float” it enough to local government leaders and responsible judges, who knows? It might catch on. Am I going all in on that bet? Nope. But it’s an idea.