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Alpha Bonding Atlanta, GA

Posted March 21, 2011 at 12:00 AM by Michael J. Whitlock, MCBA Vice President American Surety Company - 3 Comments

Gone are the days of the bail agent justifying their purpose and function by stating ‘we get our man to court’. That is, if our defendant decides not to show for court, we track him down and return him to the custody of the court at no cost to the taxpayer, and in those few instances where the defendant cannot be located, the bond is paid in full.
 
Private sector commercial enterprises that assume risk for a profit and carry out their responsibilities, to the best of their abilities in order to avoid loss are under attack by state government entities who seek to put us out of business by getting in our business. Colorado Senator John Morse, sponsor of the bail industry killing legislation known as SB 186, said it quite clearly when introducing his bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month, “the courts want to get into the bail bond business”.
 
The bail bond industry demonstrating its superior effectiveness of government pretrial release programs and deposit programs is no longer all that is needed or required to defend against unwanted government competition. Commercial bail must now show our industry’s revenue generating component, one that is fiscally positive to the counties and states where bail bonds are utilized.
 
There are several ways where commercial bail can and does generate revenue for counties and states. First, there are tens of thousands of dollars generated from licensing bail bond agents and appointing agents with surety companies. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars paid in premium taxes by the surety companies in every state, every year. There are millions of dollars paid in bail bond forfeitures where a defendant could not be located within the legal time frame. These are tangible and calculable dollars that can be gathered and offered as evidence of the commercial bail industry’s positive fiscal impact on state revenues.
 
Harder to quantify are the intangible savings to county and states courts and law enforcement agencies. Thousands of man hours go into seeing defendants appear in court and tracking and retrieving those defendants who have failed to appear for court.
 
In order for the commercial bail industry to effectively fend off unfair government competition, bail agents and sureties alike must begin logging and documenting costs associated with the apprehension and return of fugitives and losses paid in those instances where a fugitive cannot be returned. This information should be gathered by state associations and insurance associations where the data can be batched and included in a useable and comprehensive report.
 
Bail bond agents should not be discouraged at these attempts by government to put them out of a job while placing communities at higher risk of increased crime. We have the ammunition in the form of vital information right at our finger tips. We only need to fill our quivers with this data to effectively convince the powers that be that commercial bail cannot only outperform any other form of pre-trial release; our industry can generate millions of dollars in revenue in the process

Comments

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Posted March 21,2011 at 10:59 PM by Les Alligood

We should also point out the opinion of our Supreme Court. The have said in essence," The sole purpose of a Bail Bond is to guarantee a defendants appearance in court." " It should never be punitive in nature." When our money hungry Judges start collecting excessive bonds to fund an expansion of " government services" such as Drug Court, Probation Departments, Court Services etc. etc. they are in deed funding these services on the backs of the Bail Bondsman and the defendants who in most cases are the ones less likely to afford it. We, as Bail Agents have tried every conceivable manner to explain, demonstrate, cajole and plead with these Judges to change their policies to no avail. The only thing left is to get legislation in our favor which tells these pompous Judges that even they must follow the law. Just my thoughts which come from a lot of experience and thought....Les Alligood...

Posted March 22,2011 at 12:46 AM by Torrey Williams

For the government to get back into bail bonds would be a giant leap backwards in their attempts to combat ever-rising operational costs & ever-decreasing property & sales tax revenues. The additional staffing, benefits, office space, vehicles, insurances & myriad of other operational costs would cannibalize any realized profits so fast their heads would spin - laying additional costs of inmate pre-trial services squarely in the already-too-burdened laps of taxpayers.

Further, the private bail industry has an unassailable track record for capturing absconded fugitives in a timely way. Does anyone really believe the profits from government getting into the business will first fund the beefing up of fugitive squads needed to bring the new hords of runners in, and secondly, to maintain the rate of re-capture so consistently as privately held bondsman do? My guess is not. Time and time again, the direct incentives of private industry have proven to be an infinitely greater motivator to do a job than those driving government employees.

In terms of revenue paid directly to our licensing agency for the privelege of posting bail, we spend approximately $65,000 annually at one location. Add that to the $125,000 annually we spend for forfeited bonds & court fees, we forward almost $200k annually to the jail and courts. And this is almost ALL profit! The overhead output associated with monitoring bondsman & receiving these funds is negligible when compared to the take. And this is not where they really clean up in profits. The real savings lies in the fact these funds were handed over to the government without the government handing over even MORE money (i.e., for manhours, insurance premiums, pensions, vehicles, etc.) to cover the costs of generating the same.

Consolidation of services may work for the At&T's and T-mobile's of the world, but when it comes to government vs privately run bail services, I think it best left to those who have historically done it the right way for the right reasons.....and at the right price.

Posted April 2,2011 at 05:04 PM by Ken Boyer OKC

Any location in this nation with large crime rates and inefficient courts has eliminated or hampered the Bail Bond industry. Politicians do not even realize the mistakes even after they make them.



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