Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bail Bonds: The Presumption of Innocence Mischaracterized by Pretrial Release Agencies

The Pretrial Services Agency program advocates, in another contrived and twisted but failed attempt to mount a legitimate challenge against commercial bail bonding has resorted to claiming that requiring a secured bail bond is a violation of the age-old presumption of innocence doctrine.

They know that the doctrine is precious to the American criminal justice system, so we must not be surprised that they would try and identify it with their cause. Their problem is it just doesn't fit.

The fact that their program and the presumption of innocence cannot possibly connect means, necessarily, that they either do not understand the doctrine to start with or they do understand it and know that it does not apply to them. However, they are so desperate to come up with something to use in an attempt to legitimize their program that they decided to just run with it anyway. Probably in hope that nobody would miss the fact that their approach is fallacious.

Well, we didn't miss it. We know that the presumption of innocence has nothing, repeat NOTHING, to do with the Pretrial Service Agencies' programs. I will explain why...

All the presumption of innocence means is that the law does not require a person who has been accused of a crime to prove, or even to put on any evidence of, his innocence. Instead, the government has the complete burden to prove the person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And if it fails to do so, as far as the law is concerned, the person is innocent.

Aside from this, the presumption of innocence is largely symbolic. The reality is that no defendant would ever be put to trial, or even arrested in the first place, UNLESS the crime victim, the prosecutor, the arresting officer(s) and sometimes even a grand jury all believe the person is guilty.

So here's the deal: once the government has reason to believe the person has committed a crime, that person NEED NOT BE TREATED AS IF HE HAD NOT COMMITTED A CRIME, AND HE MAY BE JAILED.

To put it another way: the fact that we must consider the defendant innocent when he enters the courtroom does not mean that we must consider him innocent when he enters the jail, OR WHEN HIS BAIL BOND AND RELEASE CONDITIONS ARE SET.

Remember, the Eighth Amendment of The United States Constitution says: "There shall be no excessive bail." It does NOT say: "There shall be no bail set."

The setting of bail and insistence by the court that a defendant's release pending trial must be financially secured violates the presumption of innocence? Phooey!

One of my old law school professors told us about our opposition: "They will try to beat you with the facts. If they do not have the facts, they will try to beat you with the law. And if they do not have the facts or the law, they will try to confuse you."

Don't drink their presumption of innocence Kool-Aid stuff. They're just trying to confuse you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bail Bonds: One Effective Pro-Bail Organization

Want to see an organization that has formally, and very practically, aligned the commercial bail bonding industry with the new power base in the United States House Of Representatives?  Take a look at the American Bail Coalition (ABC).

ABC is a working group of most (not all) of America's bail insurance companies.  The organization's sole purpose is to protect and expand the market of the women and men who provide invaluable services to their communities by serving as commercial bail agents.

Two of the places where ABC works hard, and very effectively, is in the field of bail related legislation, both at the state and national levels. Much of ABC's state legislative related efforts are channeled through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the country's largest bipartisan state legislator/private sector member organization.

A recent win for ABC at the national level was the introduction yesterday of the Spending Reduction Act of 2011.  This legislation would cut 2.5 Trillion Dollars off of our national debt which today soars at a whopping 14 Trillion Dollars, thus adversely affecting our national security.

We are proud that ABC's Executive Director, Dennis Bartlett, has worked diligently in the last several months on Capitol Hill educating legislators and their staff of the folly of federal tax dollars being spent to support the unworkable County Pretrial Service agencies across the country, and that any providing of federal monies, directly or indirectly, to these agencies should stop.

Under the bill, monies heretofore flowing, via federal "Byrne Grants", to support the growth of the hundreds of county pretrial release agency institutions will cease! And that is a huge win for the good women and men in the private sector business community who help keep their neighborhoods safe by getting defendants to court for proper disposition of the charges against them.

AIA, as a founding member of ABC, takes it's hat off to Bartlett and all of the ABC member companies. These companies, every one, are to be highly commended for investing a portion of their premium dollars to underwrite the sizable ABC budget to the direct benefit of bail agents everywhere.

Hearty congratulations ABC! Very well done!

"Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them." Ronald Reagan

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bail Bonds: ALEC Pins the Tail on the Pretrial Release Donkey

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) issued a press release on Tuesday on the dwindling local jail population in America. Did you see it? If not you can read it by clicking on the following link... Jail Population.

You definitely should read the release, especially if you have been subject to the recent specious (means deceptive) plethora of drivel spewing forth from the "free bail bond stores" (county pretrial release agencies) defenders.

These big government advocates, enemies of the private sector, rail on and on about how poor people have to languish in jail pending trial because they do not have the money for a bail bond. This unfair treatment of these poor unfortunates operates to heavily overpopulate the country's county jails.

'Horse pucky!' says ALEC's press release. It points to authorities standing for the proposition that, while from 2007 to 2009 the nation's local jail inmate count has DECREASED, the percentage of persons released on commercial bail has... you guessed it: INCREASED.

How can this possibly be, if more and more defendants remain in the county jail because they cannot afford to buy a bail bond? It cannot be. That flat will not compute. Pure and simple. It just cannot be.

And do you know what? People today can afford to purchase a bail bond. In fact, they can arrange for one today easier than at any time in the nation's history (yes, commercial bail bonds have always been around in America). And do you know why bail bonds are more affordable today than ever before? It is simple: the sellers of the bonds have adjusted their pricing model to meet the needs of the marketplace. That's all. Times are hard, and the bail bond sellers have responded positively to the difficulties of today's purchasing environment.

Jails are overflowing because pretrial inmates cannot afford a bail bond?

Specious, I say. Horse pucky, I say.

What say you?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bail Bonds 2011: The Year of the Cuts

Political subdivisions of most states are financially upside down. Counties and municipalities are figuratively awash in red ink. In short, they cannot meet their currently budgeted obligations. Some of the recent results of this have been such drastic measures as either eliminating overtime for police and firemen or laying some of these much needed public servants off, or both, thus reducing community safety. Local political leaders acknowledge the bleak situation and say that other dramatic reduction measures are in the offing.

All of these county officials, some of them recently elected, say that the solution is simple; simple but not easy. Expenses, they say, must be slashed. Many entitlement programs and routine expenditures have to be eliminated. They have identified some of these: child welfare, medical services to the poor, after school programs for working mothers, mental health services to the indigent, homeless shelters and local food banks for the hungry. The list goes on. The counties simply do not have the money to support these programs.

But one program is surprisingly not on their cut list: the county's free bail bond store. That's right. These local taxpayer funded "pretrial release agencies" will continue to operate full bore. They interview newly arrested persons, recommend to the bail magistrate that these persons be released at no charge into the oversight of the agency. This service is free to the defendant but certainly not to the local citizens, millions of whose dollars are spent annually to operate this criminal welfare program.

All of the other services to be cut cannot be replaced by some other source. Not true of the free bail bond stores however, because the private sector bail bonding business already does this same work and at absolutely no cost to the county. And they routinely outperform the county criminal welfare program in the same work.

Taking money away from persons desperately in need of help only to use that money to provide free bail bonds to persons who can pay for this themselves?

How can that be right?

Please feel free to comment.  I am extremely interested in your point of view.