Monday, August 1, 2011

Pretrial Justice Institute - Strike Three: YOU'RE OUT!

This is the final installment in the “Three Strikes, You’re Out!” series of articles about the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI).

Just to recap: PJI is an organization funded with our federal tax dollars, and its mission is the eradication of commercial bail bonds from all State and County criminal justice systems.

The series is based upon this proposition:  if they cannot justify their mission by showing that commercial bail should in fact be eliminated, then they should not continue receiving federal funding.

We went on to say that the “three strikes rule” should apply: if they try three times to justify their mission and they fail every time then it should be “game over” for them.

In previous articles we showed how they failed in their first and second attempts.

This final article is about their third swing and miss:  their attempt to sell local officials on the idea that they have a superior flight risk analysis tool; “evidenced based practices.”  They claim that this “tool” of theirs enables them to accurately qualify the flight risk potential of any inmate, thereby making commercial bail unnecessary.

Now, if you believe that, I have some beautiful beach-front property in Arizona I’d like to sell you.

You may recall what I said my old law school professor told us about how to overcome the opposition: “If you’ve got the law, beat em with the law.  If you don’t have the law but you have the facts, beat em with the facts.  And if you don’t have the law or the facts, confuse em.”

Well, that’s exactly what they are up to with this snake oil pitch about evidence based practices; they’re just trying to confuse people.  They cannot make their case with law or facts (as shown in the earlier articles), so in desperation they trot out this silliness about “evidence based practices.”

Just what is it, anyway?  The term was originally borrowed from the medical profession.  Doctors were encouraged to use diagnostic techniques that had been proven by excessive research to be the most reliable.

As it applies to pretrial service programs, it means that a local jurisdiction should create a “flight risk assessment instrument” to be applied as inmates are interviewed for release qualification.  This is supposed to reduce the amount of personal intuition used in qualifying a defendant as a flight risk.

This presupposes that bail underwriting can be reduced to a science, something any good bail bond person knows to be a joke.  Bail underwriting, we in the profession know, is more an art than a science.

In short: their “tool” doesn’t work.  It is a spoof and a weak attempt by pretrial service agency advocates to claim relevance and potential usefulness.

The truth is, government run bail stores do an inferior job to private sector bail bond women and men who not only outperform their taxpayer funded competitors, but who provide their valuable service at no cost to the county.

In fact, if you really want to see a true “evidence based practice” just look at commercial bail.  All the “evidence” (the many major research studies on the subject) proves that private sector bail is the better approach.  Now that’s an evidence based practice.

So, they miss again.  They missed on the law and they missed on the facts and now we see they missed when they tried to confuse everybody with this “evidence based practice” hogwash.

Third strike.  That’s it.  PJI should be sent to the dugout.  They should no longer be allowed to use our tax dollars in their attempt to put us out of business.

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