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.

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