Where in the World is Mike Whitlock?

Categories
Archives

 

Upcoming Events
Bail Office of the Month


Alpha Bonding Atlanta, GA

Posted March 29, 2013 at 12:00 AM by Michael J. Whitlock, Executive Vice President - 13 Comments

Indianapolis, IN - An effort to repeal Indiana’s no-credit law on bail premiums failed yesterday.  Amendment HB1006 #30 was offered by Senator Steele during the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Senator Steele is a longtime supporter of commercial bail and public safety issues.  The president of the Indiana Surety Agents Association testified in opposition to the amendment, specifically that portion dealing with the repeal of no-credit on bond premium.  As a result, the amendment failed to pass.

The proposed amendment did two things. Number one, it repealed the no-credit law allowing bail agents to accept payment terms on the premium.  Current Indiana law requires bail agents to collect the entire premium prior to posting a bond.  Number two; it is the defendant’s choice to post a full cash bond or a bail bond.  Current law could be interpreted to say a judge can set a ten percent cash deposit bond to the exclusion of all other options.

This legislative effort was initiated by American Surety Company and we are very proud of this fact.  American Surety Company is the only bail surety company domiciled in Indiana regulated by the Indiana Department of Insurance.  Indiana is our home court.  We feel obliged to act in the best interest of all bail agents in this state.  After years of watching other initiatives fail, we believed it was time to slaughter the sacred cow, that being no-credit.

We sought support from other surety companies doing business in Indiana.  The majority supported.  We invited our agents to our office to discuss our proposals.  The majority supported.  We believe the American Surety agents we spoke with were a fair sampling of all Indiana agents.  We calculated most bail agents in this state would recognize the need for repealing this antiquated law and the value of a law that would allow a defendant to opt for the type of bond they wish to post.

Indiana is the last remaining state to not allow payment terms.  Some Indiana bail agents wear no-credit as a badge of honor.  In actuality, no-credit is more like a pair of handcuffs that prevent bail agents from competing against deposit bail.

Of the 92 counties in Indiana, at least 37 have rooted out bail agents with deposit bail.  The rest of the counties in the state offer a deposit bond option and some percentage of surety bail.  Bail agents are at a major disadvantage because they cannot compete with the ten percent cash option, not if they must collect the full bond premium prior to posting a bond.

Criminal defendants seeking release from jail will continue to select the path of least resistance, deposit bail.  Why would a defendant pay a bond premium and put himself at the mercy of a bail agent and release conditions when they could simply deposit the same ten percent to the court with no conditions?

If a bail agent was able to provide a defendant with payment terms, a number of defendants would start opting for a bail bond.  Why, because it would be the easier path.  Defendants and their family do not always have the money to cover the full ten percent without options they sit in jail.  A lot of people need payment terms, a simple fact.

We firmly believe a bail agent having the legal authority to offer payment terms to their clients and the defendant having the option to post a bail bond is the only way to compete with the ten percent option and reclaim market share in those counties where ten percent is an option and those counties where it’s the only option.

The inability to pass Amendment # 30 was a critical opportunity lost.  Bail agents would finally have something to look forward to rather than count down the days to their industry’s demise.  American Surety Company will continue to use knowledge and common sense in our fight on behalf of bail agents and the preservation of the bail industry.  If you are a member of the ISBAA I urge you to make your position known to them on the concept of repealing the no-credit law.

Comments

Add your own Comment!

Posted March 29,2013 at 03:01 PM by Matthew Phillips

Mike,

I'd be interested to hear the other side of this argument. What is the stance taken by the ISBAA and what is the justification?

Thanks,
Matt

Posted March 29,2013 at 03:05 PM by Topo Padilla

This is very unfortunate news for the bail industry. For the defendant and consumer bail is only for the wealthy or those that have money. You can make payments to your attorney to the court on fines and when you buy car insurance, but not for a bail bond....amazing. As for the bail agents and sureties that support this, they do not see the fact that they are dwindling the effectiveness of the bail industry to the criminal justice system, and sooner or later they too will be dwindled out of a job. So, shame on the sureties and agents that support our free market enterprise not being able to issue credit just like all other industry in this great country. Don't give up; keep fighting the fight and thank you Mike Whitlock and ASI for all you are doing for the bail bond industry.

Posted March 29,2013 at 03:17 PM by Justin Butler

Congrats on going against the grain. It's not easy in this industry to go against what the higher powers want, even when you know that your ideas are better. Many people in this industry fight for status quo and forget to adopt things that are needed to keep our industry in front of societal change. This isn't 1950 anymore and people better realize that the PJI, NAPSA, and other similar organizations are out for blood.

The pitiful part of this, is that this amendment should have been adopted 10 years ago and had that occurred, the deposit bail programs would never have gained ground. Today you will have an enormous fight on your hands, even if this amendment does get passed.

I am glad to know and support someone that will tell their local association that they are wrong. I hope that when bail agents look at this lost opportunity, they realize that we are in a fight for our existence and that we cannot be apathetic.

Posted March 29,2013 at 04:50 PM by Lee C/ Sexton

I have several agents throughout Indiana and we are really finding it hard to write bail in most of counties. I have been a member in the ISBAA since it became an association. I've served in many positions including several terms as its president. Every time we tried to find a solution to fix or discourage the exclusive use the 10% cash deposit only we had to deal with opponents. Those were usually the legislators that do not support bail bondsmen and would not give us a chance to be heard. This was the best chance we've ever had to do something to save our business. The current president on his own stood up and told the committee the association and its members did not support the amendments. That statement killed our chances and could end up in denying our survival.

Posted March 29,2013 at 05:38 PM by Ike Whitlock

Matt,
Thanks for your question. Jim Degan is the current president of ISBAA. In his testimony Jim cited Ohio as an example of why credit bail is not good for Indiana. He said Ohio agents bond defendants out with no money down. Beyond that statement you will have to ask Jim directly other reasons ISBAA had for opposing the no-credit portion of the amendment.
Mike

Posted March 29,2013 at 05:50 PM by Glenn Strickland

I have not had the pleasure of meeting Jim Degan and to the best of my knowledge he did not attend PBUS nor any COP meetings. I believe if he had
presented the question to the other state presidents and gotten feedback
from other state presidents, he might have reconsidered his position.

In the market today, credit bail is essential. With the economy and people
not having the ready resources, credit bail is the only way to do business.

I agree that if one has to pay the full fee to a bondsman or put up a deposit which equals the fee. I can easily understand why one would choose the deposit.

In the Texas bail market today, credit bail is the norm on larger bonds.

Posted March 29,2013 at 09:33 PM by LUIS A ROJAS

I Have had the Pleasure of meeting most of the Bail Agents from the ISBAA and they are awesome down to earth. I am humble and sad for the battle that our industry faces. This is not the time to point at each other is time to come together and fight for what is yours. I`m not a Bail Agent but I have been long enough to know. I Recover fugitive for the surety or Bail Agency since 1991, and I have met many Powerful Bail Agents That they to Face strong war with in the courts and they fought back and they have been successful. one of them is Louis Cubellis, and Harvey Childs from Bail U S A From Greenville Pennsylvania. William Yording from Colorado. I can tell you many of Bail Agents that now are Retired that inspire me to be the most persistent Bail Recovery Agent. We need to figure this out together the government always want to take over but I say Not today we still here so lets stand together with Mike Whitlock and the ISBAA and show the system that we are here to make a stand we need to support one another. our voice need to be heard in the justice system. Best Regards Member of the ISBAA Luis Rojas with the Grates Respect to all My Bail Agents

Posted March 29,2013 at 09:44 PM by Jeff Catron

First off, reality check for everyone, we already extend credit by putting up the full amount in the form of a bond. Asking for 10% is not that much and it is a 90% discount over the full cash. So lets all just admit that as a bondsman the posting of the bond is extending credit per se already. We could have opened the door with the "all courts most accept full cash or 10% surety if they accept a bail bond." I even hear that many people's ears were opened that day to the fact that 10% cash deposit to the court is a poor idea as it is unsecured and leaves the rearrest to law enforcement costing thus costing tax payers. I hear Larry Landis even admitted this! Now one should argue this was the time to slam the coffin lid shut on 10% deposit bonds in Indiana! But the last minute introduction of credit bonding without most bail agents knowledge of the amendment or the wording it contained makes it hard to gain their support. Further this bill only said it now allows installment payments and set the interest rate, it did not set minimum down payment terms or allow for surrender of defendant for nonpayment. There were too many unanswered questions for many agents.

"What we have here is failure to communicate!"

Happy Easter, be safe everyone and enjoy your family and friends.

Posted March 30,2013 at 08:02 AM by Mike Whitlock

I really appreciate all the feedback, even the criticism. It can be productive, if done in a civil fashion.

We started exploring the idea of repealing the no-credit law after the bail restrictions legislation being pushed by ISBAA failed to get out of committee. Not to long after that Tippecanoe County announced it's intention to move to a deposit bail option on bonds $5000 and under. Bonds $5000 and under make up 80% of the bonds written in that county.

We floated the idea of repeal to our fellow surety companies writing in Indiana. A few opposed, most agreed. The repeal concept was now in the market place. ASC invited all its Indiana agents to Indianapolis to discuss repeal. We presented our case for repeal. We debated for four hours. The majority of attendees walked away in favor of repeal. A few of the attendees also served on the ISBAA Board of Directors.

There were other agents in the market making the case against repeal. I'm not aware of any communications or meetings engineered by ISBAA on this issue. Yet, the ISBAA president testified the bail agent association and its members opposed repeal.

As for circulating the amendment before it was proposed, well, that's the legislative process for you. I, myself, didn't see the full amendment until thirty minutes before it was proposed. Jim Degan saw a copy at the same time. It was exactly what repeal seekers wanted. It had the repeal provision and gave the defendant the option to post a bail bond whenever bail was set. It was a work of art. I pleaded with Jim Degan to not oppose the amendment. Sen. Steele, the amendment’s sponsor, gave an impassioned introduction in support of the bail industry and challenged the fairness of deposit bail with respect to the deposit being receipted in the defendant’s name and not “grandma”. I was awe struck. Five minutes later ISBAA testified against repeal. That was that. It took my breath away.

The issue of repeal is not dead. With every new county that opts to begin using or expands the use of deposit bail, bail agents will begin to see the wisdom of repealing no credit. I just need to do a better job bringing the issue to all bail agents in Indiana. It is my commitment to do just that. To do otherwise, would be to surrender to a far lessor opponent, deposit bail.

Posted April 1,2013 at 10:17 AM by Steven F. Shell

It equates to two Roosters fighting over in the corner why the fox robs the hen house. Bail Legislation is hard enough to sell but near impossible to achieve lacking in a consensus. Three issues become apparent:
(1) The right of the State to compromise the integrity of private competition in support of their will to eliminate their own competition.
(2) The right of the State to interfere with the right of the private sector to compete on an equal and fair playing field.
(3) The intrusive State regulations that diminish the contribution of the private industry to address the problems aligned with an indigent defender thus promoting better results for maintenance of overcrowded detention problems.

Posted April 1,2013 at 02:42 PM by Tony Widgery

While I appreciate everybody's efforts in this amendment, it was clear to those within our profession and the association, that we were divided on the "credit" issue. Knowing this, how would the author of the amendment (Sen. Steele) get the idea all Bail Agents in Indiana were in favor of the entire amendment? What made him think there would be no opposition?

The "defendants right to choose the type of bond" language was unanimous across the profession and no one would have have offered testimony against it. That section alone would have been a Home Run for all Bail Agents in Indiana.

I agree that we missed a great opportunity to pass meaningful legislation. Not because a person stood up and said what he and many others believe in but because someone went for the "Brass Ring" in hopes that no one else would notice what was happening. Again, I appreciate your efforts and convictions, I just don't entirely agree with them.

We should learn from this and somehow get on the same page so it doesn't happen again. What works in one county does not work in another. Perhaps we should have had the opportunity to see if the Judges would have followed that particular law (Defendants Choice) if passed before proceeding with attempting credit. Just a thought.

Tony Widgery
Past President, ISBAA

Posted April 1,2013 at 02:43 PM by Tony Widgery

While I appreciate everybody's efforts in this amendment, it was clear to those within our profession and the association, that we were divided on the "credit" issue. Knowing this, how would the author of the amendment (Sen. Steele) get the idea all Bail Agents in Indiana were in favor of the entire amendment? What made him think there would be no opposition?

The "defendants right to choose the type of bond" language was unanimous across the profession and no one would have have offered testimony against it. That section alone would have been a Home Run for all Bail Agents in Indiana.

I agree that we missed a great opportunity to pass meaningful legislation. Not because a person stood up and said what he and many others believe in but because someone went for the "Brass Ring" in hopes that no one else would notice what was happening. Again, I appreciate your efforts and convictions, I just don't entirely agree with them.

We should learn from this and somehow get on the same page so it doesn't happen again. What works in one county does not work in another. Perhaps we should have had the opportunity to see if the Judges would have followed that particular law (Defendants Choice) if passed before proceeding with attempting credit. Just a thought.

Tony Widgery
Past President, ISBAA

Posted April 2,2013 at 09:54 AM by Test

This is atest



Will not display, but required.

No HTML or formatting is allowed.

If you see the following form field, please ignore it and do not fill it out. It is used to check for bots.