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Bail in the Empire State

Posted October 2, 2015 at 12:00 AM by Michael J. Whitlock, Executive Vice President under Meeting Recaps, and SGW Golf  - 0 Comments

I traveled to New York City earlier this week where I attended a meeting of the American Bail Coalition and prominent members of the local bail bond community.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss New York’s current bail system and efforts by some politicos to provide taxpayer funded bail to criminal offenders to the exclusion of bail bonds and to develop solutions to address their concerns.

New York City has a large criminal justice system with more than 10,000 people in jail on any given day.  Most criminal offenders are released on their own recognizance while a much smaller percentage is released on a secured bail bond.

New York State has a massive criminal justice system with many areas that require reform.  There are those who want to point to money bail as an area to either reduce or eliminate its use.  However, defendants released on a bail bond are more likely to appear for court than any other release option.  That’s a success, not a failure.

Beware the motivation of the person or entity who seeks the elimination of commercial bail bonds.  They are usually pushing their own agenda which involves their own version of a supervised released program typically underwritten by the taxpayers. 

The New York meeting took place Wednesday, September 30 in Lower Manhattan.  Coincidentally, the following day, October 1, an article appeared in the Wall Street Journal, N.Y. Lawmaker Proposes Eliminating Bail.  Click here to read the press release issued by the American Bail Coalition in response to the WSJ article. 

Bail Agents Support Kids

At the start of the week I was in Dallas, Texas for the 26th Annual Steven G. Whitlock Memorial Golf Tournament.  This annual charity event partners with The Professional Bondsmen of Texas to raise money for Camp Esperanza, a summer camp for kids battling cancer and receives tremendous support from bail agents throughout Texas and around the country. 

This year’s event raised $45,000 sufficient to fund the cost of sending ninety kids to Camp Esperanza in July 2016.  The good people that work within the bail profession are warm, caring and giving.  I saw a lot of watery eyes when noted Texas bail attorney Ken Good spoke of his daughter Laurel’s participation at Camp Esperanza.  For all the kids who are fortunate enough to attend Camp Esperanza, and there is a waiting list, that week in the hot July heat is the most glorious time of the year for them.  Ultimately, it’s the supporters of SGW that are fortunate as we get the opportunity to help some really great kids.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support this great cause!

Helping Kids Never Gets Old

Posted July 22, 2014 at 12:00 AM by Michael J. Whitlock, Executive Vice President under SGW Golf  - 0 Comments

While perusing Facebook updates yesterday I came across a post by Texas Attorney and bail expert Ken Good.  Ken had written about his recent trip to Dallas to drop off his daughter Laurel to attend Camp Esperanza.  Laurel is a young warrior battling cancer and a regular this summer camp for kids battling cancer. 

Ken wrote about the emotional reunions these kids experience each year when meeting new friends and remembering those kids who lost their personal battles with cancer.  Kids being treated for cancer at Children's Medical Center of Dallas are invited to attend Camp Esperanza.  The anticipation alone helps detract them from their troubles, while camp week is a welcome relief from stress and worry.  They simply don't want to leave.

 

This year's Camp Esperanza was funded in large part by the proceeds generated by the 2013 Steven G. Whitlock Memorial Golf Tournament.  SGW, in partnership with The Professional Bondsmen of Texas and our primary sponsor American Surety Company, look forward to another spectacular year raising money for these great kids.  Everyone who participates, sponsors, or volunteers with SGW can be proud of the impact they have on this worthy cause.  


The 25th Anniversary of the Steven G. Whitlock Memorial Golf Tournament is set for Monday, September 22 at The Golf Club at Twin Creeks in Allen, Texas. 

  

Be sure to check out Ken's Facebook post below.  Click here to find out how you can participate.

 

Register online

Registration Download

 

Bail Bond Industry Turns Out for Charity Event

Posted August 18, 2013 at 12:00 AM by Michael J. Whitlock, MCBA, Executive Vice President under SGW Golf  - 1 Comment

 The 24th Annual Steven G. Whitlock Memorial Golf Tournament was held at Iron Horse Golf Course in North Richland Hills, Texas, this past Wednesday, August 14.  American Surety Company is the title sponsor of this annual event produced by The Professional Bondsmen of Texas and The Whitlock Family.

Tremendous financial support was received from the Texas bail bond community and bail agents and surety companies from around the country.  The bail bond profession is notoriously competitive though all this was set aside to raise money to assist 140 kids battling cancer to attend summer camp at Camp Esperanza.

Doreen Bruner is the Executive Director for The Bridewell Foundation and Camp Esperanza.  During the awards ceremony Doreen told attendees the Steven G. Whitlock Memorial Golf Tournament has become the primary fundraiser for Camp Esperanza raising more than fifty percent of the camp’s annual budget.

Thank you to everyone who participated and contributed to this year’s event which raised $44,000 for Camp Esperanza.   I’m very proud to be a member of the bail bond profession.

View Pictures of SGW 2013

Hot Event Raises Cool Cash for Kids

Posted August 6, 2012 at 12:00 AM by Michael J. Whitlock, MCBA Executive Vice President under SGW Golf  - 0 Comments

North Richland Hills, TX – On a day where the temperature swelled to 111 degrees, bail agents from all parts of Texas and around the country came together to enjoy a round of golf or volunteer for an event raising cash for a great cause.

The 23rd Annual Steven G. Whitlock Memorial Golf Tournament presented by the Professional Bondsmen of Texas raised $46,000 for Camp Esperanza.  This could not have been accomplished without the financial support of Dallas area businesses, bail agents and surety companies throughout Texas and across the nation. 

The support from bail professionals for this event and their designated charity over the years is remarkable though not at all surprising.  Bail agents quietly go about supporting charities in their local communities without fanfare.  Bail agents provide a vital service to their local communities and are as much a part of their business community as the local grocer.  Bail agents are known for their big hearts.

The 150 kids who attend Camp Esperanza annually truly appreciate the support of everyone involved with SGW.  Thank you to everyone who participated to make this year a success.

Bail profession bonds with charity

Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:00 AM by Michael J. Whitlock, MCBA Executive Vice President under SGW Golf  - 0 Comments

We lost a friend and neighbor last week after a fourteen month battle with breast cancer. She was a doctor, young wife and mother of three. A California bail agent and longtime friend confided in me recently she’s been diagnosed with breast cancer. Another friend and bail agent in Georgia has an ongoing battle with melanoma. We’re used to having a remedy in the bail profession; locate and recover your fugitive, avoid a loss. The lines are not so clearly defined in the battle with cancer. Cancer can be easy to find but hard to catch.
We lost my twin brother Steve in 1989 after he lost his battle with cancer. Steve had an inoperable tumor located in his brainstem known as a glioblastoma.  Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) died in 2009 of a brain tumor of the same type. Little progress has been made in the last 23 years to extend the life expectancy of this type of cancer, let alone a cure.
Soon after Steve’s death our family decided to establish a golf event to raise money for a charity in his memory. Steve was a people person and loved kids so we sought out a charity that would benefit kids battling cancer. That charity was Camp Esperanza, a week long summer camp for pediatric oncology patients receiving treatment at the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. Our objective was to raise money through an annual charity golf tournament to help underwrite the cost of sending brave kids in the battle for their life to camp for a much needed respite.
After a 20 year run The Steven G. Whitlock Memorial Golf Tournament sought out and received 100% support from the Professional Bondsmen of Texas. This partnership had an immediate impact on the level of participation within the bail community and the money being raised annually for Camp Esperanza.
The bail community’s participation has not stopped at the Texas state line. SGW receives financial support and player participation from bail agents and surety companies from around the country including California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland and Tennessee. Bail associations from California, Tennessee and Texas have made generous contributions.
We are so grateful to the national bail bond community for adopting The Steven G. Whitlock Memorial Golf Tournament and its charity Camp Esperanza making SGW perhaps the most supported charity by the bail profession in the nation.  Anyone who has participated in this event can tell you what a special feeling it is to help these kids who are in the fight for their life, enjoy much needed down time, rest and relaxation. Announcing the contribution amount at the end of each year’s event is truly the highlight of my year knowing the impact each year’s donation will make to the benefit of Camp Esperanza and the kids.
The 23rd Annual SGW Golf Tournament is now one month away being held on August 1st in the Dallas Ft. Worth area. There is still plenty of time to enter a foursome, make a contribution or signup to be a volunteer. If you’re coming in from out of town, plan on sticking around for the 3rd Quarter Meeting of the Professional Bondsmen of Texas. PBT is an excellent organization and the epitome of how a state bail agent association should be managed.
Thanks to the bail profession and national bail community for your support of these brave kids.

What the Bail?

Posted May 22, 2012 at 12:00 AM by Michael J. Whitlock,MCBA Executive Vice President under Commercial Bail, Legislation, Meeting Recaps, and SGW Golf  - 0 Comments

After a three week lull in travel in early April, I was off and running again with trips to Texas, California, Georgia and Tennessee.  Amid my travels I tried to keep abreast of critical legislative events occurring in Alabama, California, Colorado, Louisiana and Missouri.
 
Alabama bondsmen tried in vain to defeat the implementation of an oppressive $35 bond fee while California bail groups make their opposition known on the Hancock bill (SB1180) that provides the first option of release to be on one’s own recognizance. We can trust them, right?
 
Over in Colorado there was a harmony of efforts to continue the authority of the Division of Insurance to regulate bail through 2017. It appears all interested parties walked away happy though not fully satisfied. That’s when you know it’s the best you’re going to get.
 
The commercial bail community in Louisiana has its hands full curtailing the expansion of ten percent cash bail and the encroachment of taxpayer funded pretrial release. Then there is the Show Me State whose bail agents are supporting the passing of a measure that says, Missouri courts cannot set a cash-only bond. BTW, this is already provided for in that state’s constitution. See Article One, Section 20.
 
As always, you only need click on our 2012 Bail Bond Legislative Update to review bills from these states and others across the county to see what legislative measures can impact bail in your market.
 
On the travel schedule, next month I’ll be a guest instructor at a continuing education class presented by the Oklahoma Bondsman Association speaking about public pretrial release programs. From there I’m scheduled to attend FSAA’s 40th Anniversary Celebration in Cocoa Beach, PBUS Mid-Year Meeting in San Diego, the MBAA General Assembly Meeting in Bay St. Louis and the PBT 3rd Quarter Meeting in Ft. Worth. The PBT meeting coincides with the 23rd Annual Steven G. Whitlock Memorial Golf Tournament August 1st, where we anticipate raising a significant donation, with tremendous help from generous bail agents to underwrite the costs of sending as many as 85 kids who are battling cancer to Camp Esperanza. This is a day I look forward to every year.
 
All bail agents should support their state and national associations with their time and money.  Without these valuable entities the commercial bail industry would be defenseless against those who seek to eliminate our profession and replace bail with yes, an air sandwich.

That’s all for today, I have to get downtown for Indiana’s spring meeting of bail agents. It’s going to be a blockbuster.

Bail Agents Pony Up Big for Camp Kids

Posted August 14, 2011 at 12:00 AM by Michael J. Whitlock,MCBA Vice President American Surety Company under SGW Golf  - 2 Comments

North Richland Hills,TX - Camp Esperanza is an annual summer camp for kids ages six to 18 who are battling cancer. The camp with its staff of volunteers of doctors, nurses and layman can handle 140 kids. There’s a waiting list. Former camp kid and current camp counselor Diana Garcia, who spoke during awards ceremony said the kids are laughing and giggling with excitement on the bus trip to camp and teary eyed on the trip back, they don’t want to leave.  It’s a slice of Heaven one week a year for these kids to interact with other kids who can identify with their health issues and medical needs.
The Steven G. Whitlock Memorial Golf Tournament held its 22nd annual event this week at the Iron Horse Golf Course in North Richland Hills, Texas on August 10. Raising money to help kids battling cancer is the event’s sole purpose. The Professional Bondsmen of Texas is a full partner in this annual event.  Bondsmen from all over Texas and from many parts of the United States participated as a player or sponsor for our 2011 event. Several surety companies provided sponsorship as well.
In spite of these tough economic times and the fact that most bonding companies are seeing a down turn in their business they were still willing to open up their check books to support these kids. So much so, that the 2011 SGW Memorial raised $42,000 for Camp Esperanza, a 25% increase over the 2010 donation.
Thank you to all the sponsors and participants with a special thanks to the commercial bail bond community who have shown their big hearts and compassion for kids in need. In the words of Doreen Bruner, President of The Bridewell Foundation and producer of Camp Esperanza, “these bondsmen are very special people.”
 

 Click to view picture slide show

 

Bail Agents Endure Heat to Raise Cash for Kids

Posted August 9, 2010 at 12:00 AM by Michael J. Whitlock, MCBA under SGW Golf, and Surety Bail Bonds  - 0 Comments

Even the suffocating heat of Texas in August could not wilt the enthusiasm and giving spirit of the golfers and volunteers participating in the 21st Annual Steven G. Whitlock Memorial Golf Tournament. Bondsmen from throughout Texas and across the country converged on Woodhaven Country Club in Fort Worth August 4th to help raise money for Camp Esperanza, a summer camp that hosts 140 kids battling cancer.
The cost of sending a kid to Camp Esperanza is approximately $500 and it is the sole focus of SGW to underwrite the cost of sending as many kids as possible to summer camp. These kids, who deal with the difficulties of their struggle with cancer throughout the year, look forward to a week of stress free fun with their fellow soldiers. We are here to help these kids.
This year’s SGW event raised $31,000, which will fund the cost of sending more than sixty kids to Camp Esperanza in 2011. The involvement of The Professional Bondsmen of Texas, as the presenter of SGW, has breathed new life into this annual event which has entered its third decade, resulting in a significant increase in proceeds donated to Camp Esperanza.
 
The involvement of bondsmen and surety companies underscores the generous nature of those working in the bail profession who, on a daily basis, must deal with people who find themselves in trouble with the law. It was a sight to see.
Thank you to everyone involved who contributed their time, money and energy to raise a bunch of money for kids who truly deserve our help. We hope to see you again next year.
PBT 3rd Quarter Meeting
The SGW golf outing was scheduled to coincide with the 3rd Quarter Meeting of the Professional Bondsmen of Texas. This meeting was held at the Hilton in Arlington Texas directly across from Six Flags over Texas, Texas Rangers Stadium and the brand new Dallas Cowboys stadium.
 
Attendance is never a problem at PBT meetings. Texas bondsmen are genuinely concerned about the future of bail in their state and actively participate in efforts to protect and preserve their industry.
First Assistant District Attorney Terri Moore from the Dallas County DA’s office was the guest speaker. Terri Moore, who was invited by Camille Hodnett, owner of Bail Bonds by Camille in Ft. Worth, was the brains behind the idea of the Conviction Integrity Unit of the Dallas County District Attorney’s office. This elite unit is charged with reviewing select cases of convicted felons to determine if they were legitimately convicted. Their efforts have resulted in exonerating 21 convicted felons who were subsequently released from prison.
The PBT legislative committee discussed their legislative agenda for 2011 recognizing that redistricting, budget and immigration will be the primary focus of the state legislature next year.
There was also a lot of talk of the recent Ethics Opinion number 599 issued by the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. It concluded, “it is not permissible for a lawyer who serves as bail bondsman for his client in a criminal prosecution to add to the court’s form of bond a provision in which the client agrees that, if the client fails to appear in court, the attorney is authorized to enter a “no contest” plea.” It was determined that to enter a “no contest” plea is in the best interest of the lawyer (who avoids a bond forfeiture) and not the client.
Tremendous thanks goes to Houston bondsmen Mike and Randy Kubosh who funded the effort to obtain an opinion from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. This effort took six months and more than twenty thousand dollars in legal fees.

PBT will be holding its Annual Meeting October 20 – 23 at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio. This annual meeting is always well attended and a lot of fun. I highly recommend attending even if you operate outside Texas.

It's about the Kids

Posted June 3, 2010 at 12:00 AM by Michael J. Whitlock, MCBA under Commercial Bail, and SGW Golf  - 1 Comment

Imagine being eight years old, in second grade, and you’re battling some form of cancer.  You didn’t ask for this, you have no control, you’re just a kid.  Multiple doctor visits ensue, shots, scans, tests and more tests.  At some point it gets to be too much and all you want to do is get away from it all. 

For kids who find themselves in this situation Camp Esperanza is the place to be.  It’s a summer camp created specifically for kids battling cancer who need an escape, an oasis devoid of people with charts and test results.  For many of these kids this is the one week of the year they can truly let go and enjoy life.  They can revitalize themselves in the Texas sun fishing, climbing and swimming, chilling out with other kids facing a similar plight.

After we lost my brother Steve to cancer more than twenty years ago we sought out a charity for whom we could raise money is his memory.  We were led to The Bridewell Foundation and Camp Esperanza.  Twenty years later, with the help of friends and family, we have raised more than $175,000 sending 348 kids to Camp Esperanza through the Steven G. Whitlock Memorial Golf Tournament.

American Surety Company is our title sponsor and The Professional Bondsmen of Texas has become our partner in managing the Steven G. Whitlock Memorial Golf Tournament.  We’ve already seen the impact of PBT’s involvement when we increased our donation to Camp Esperanza last year to $26,500, up from $15,000 in 2008.

Having bail agents involved with this annual event makes the whole affair extra special.  We receive donations and sponsorships from bail agents, not only from Texas but from across the country.  Several commercial bail surety companies also participate by sponsoring a team of golfers, providing sponsorship or making a direct donation.

This year’s event will be held at the Woodhaven Country Club in Fort Worth on Wednesday, August 4.  The event will kick off the 3rd Quarter Meeting of the Professional Bondsmen of Texas (agenda) being held at the Hilton Arlington August 5-7.  Bail agents coming to town to participate in The Steven G. Whitlock are encouraged to attend the conference.

Those of you wishing to participate in this year’s event whether as a golfer, sponsor or contributor can do so by clicking online registration.   All are welcome to participate and take part in the experience of raising money for a worthy cause.  After all, it’s about the kids!

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