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.
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.
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- 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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