Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:00 AM by Michael J. Whitlock -
If the filing of a lawsuit in a Houston Federal Court in 2016 was not a sufficient wake-up call to Texas bail agents then perhaps the filing of legislation aimed to put them out of business might do the trick.
I awoke at 4AM this past Wednesday morning to a flight to Austin. I wanted to be on time for PBT’s first meeting of the year. After a year off, the Texas Legislature was in session and criminal justice reform had been placed on the legislative menu in the form of multiple bills. To my surprise this critical meeting was poorly attended with only the usual suspects taking time away from their businesses to show. The usual suspects being most of the PBT Board of Directors, the association’s lobbyists and surety guys like me who travelled from out of state to attend this very important strategy meeting.
Our adversaries have had no trouble organizing and raising sufficient revenue to file lawsuits all over the country and engage legislators on filing offender-friendly legislation. Why then, are so many bail agents showing so little interest in participating in the protection of their livelihood?
Myself and many others have been sporting chainmail for the last few years fighting battles all over the country to preserve the commercial bail industry. Like any war, it must be sufficiently financed. Money and resources are critical to success. In Texas, with its 254 counties, a relationship with your local legislator who understands your business and appreciates your contributions to the criminal justice system is worth more than money. This resource cannot be tapped if you do not make yourself available to your state association, the Professional Bondsmen of Texas.
Subsequent to the federal suit being filed in Houston, Harris County bail agents report business is down as much as 75%. Houston has a problem and that problem could come to your county soon if we are not successful in derailing uniformed legislation. Please reach out to PBT today. Write them a check and ask how you can help. We know the value commercial bail agents bring to the criminal justice system. We need to work as a team to educate legislators and the public who might not yet fully appreciate the work we do and the harm that would be brought to Texas public safety should our participation be reduced or eliminated.
2017 Legislative Log
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Posted January 16,2017 at 02:34 PM by LeeAnn Curtis
This fight is evident everywhere. Our friends (agents) in Reno now are facing terrible realities regarding this issue of reform. Now, in Reno no one can bail until they see a judge in 3 days. Once seen, many are being released on a promise to appear. While this is a 3 month pilot program, the movement to end bail is alive and well. We know of one office already that has closed its doors. If you are a California agent please contact me, LeeAnn Curtis to have your voice heard. We need to kill CA SB-10. Currently we are working on a press release that will go out on the newswire so that our voices may be heard. Legislators need to be providing a cost analysis of their proposals and we need to call out to them to do so. This week, we are working on a webpage where we plan to educate others on the issues surrounding bail. Here we will have the proposed bills along with commentary from criminal justice professionals, bail agents and others. The press releases planned will have a link to the site we are building; www.savebail.com. We invite participation, commentaries, research data, and donations ASAP. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.