The voters have spoken, and the state referendum created by Americans For The Preservation Of Bail was defeated. The ballot measure which was supposed to save the bail bond industry in Colorado was rejected today at the polls.
The commercial bail bond industry now has to hope that the claim that private sector bonding would be lost in Colorado without a prop 102 win was just hype to solicit support for the measure.
Obviously the question confronting the industry today is: what next? Where do we go now that state judges, legislators, opinion leaders, and the attorney general as well as local county government officials, policymakers and sheriffs have been seriously alienated?
It is respectfully suggested that this is the time for the two step process of an assessment of damage done and the making of reparations; the mending of fences, if you will.
But how can this be most effectively done? The answer seems to be that a serious and professional education program needs to be designed whereby those whose endorsement of our industry is needed (unfortunately the very persons who have been aggravated this election season) can become convinced that we can be valuable partners in the effective administration of justice in the State of Colorado. While we know that this proposition is sound, they certainly do not given today's climate.
An effective vehicle for delivering this message would be a vibrant state association of bail agents. Such an endeavor not just in effective representation in the upcoming legislative sunset process but also in a well conceived education focused public relations campaign might just save the day. It certainly works in some other states.
Would the majority of the bail bond agents in Colorado come together in such a manner? One can only hope so. Absent such a collaborative effort, maybe the future of commercial bail in the state is in fact in jeopardy, especially now that the industry's attempt to force itself upon government leaders has failed.
The truth is, if commercial bail does not flourish and prosper in Colorado it will not be the fault of elected officials, law enforcement or judges. It will be because the industry itself refuses to take the necessary steps to keep itself out of harm’s way.
"We have met the enemy, and he is us."
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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