“Where in the world is Mike?” is a common refrain I hear as I travel around the country meeting with bail agents. I guess I brought this on myself.
I recently attended a meeting of the Georgia Association of Professional Bondsmen in Savannah. Ironically, it was following a fall meeting of the GAPB in 2004 I had written my first blog. That blog proved to be the impetus for what would become my Where in the World is Mike Whitlock online articles.
American Surety Company had been producing a premier industry newsletter for years but it had become clear the information being disseminated was often dated and stale by the time it reached the reader. While I’m no Steve Jobs, we do try to be innovative in our thinking and how we go about communicating with bail agents. After setting the bar with our 24 page, four-color newsletter, we became the first bail surety company to regularly distribute free information electronically to all bail agents.
The reaction was immediate and positive. Bail agents began receiving industry meeting updates within days rather than waiting two months for meeting summaries to arrive in the association newsletter via snail mail. American Surety soon followed with regular legislative updates and bail related case information. There was never any consideration to providing this information to our agents exclusively. From the beginning, it was our intent to provide free industry information to all bail agents. The better informed we are as a profession the more professional we become.
A few years ago we made profound enhancements to our website at ASC-USI.com to include valuable links, articles, legislative updates, case law information and digital photos from meetings and company events. We are very proud of our profession and enthusiastically promote the bail agent.
GAPB Meeting Notes
Jared Skelton is the current president of GAPB with his term ending next spring. The meeting was well attending and the cocktail party held for the sheriffs, who were also in Savannah for their annual meeting, was a huge success.
While nothing significant occurred in the legislature this year that would impact the bail industry in Georgia, a bill (HB 265) creating the 2011 Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians was enacted. This council was created to review and submit recommendations to “enhance public safety, reduce victimization, hold offenders more accountable, enhance probation and parole supervision, and better manage a growing prison population through increasing public safety, improving rehabilitation, and lower state expense”.
The GAPB will be working closely with the house and senate members of this council to ensure the voice of the commercial bail industry is heard. A council of this nature can be productive yet can also be harmful if the proven effectiveness of the commercial bail industry is ignored.