2009 Conference Much Ado About Something

Where does one begin in a year that brings so many issues to the table?  CBAA celebrated its 30th annual convention at Harrah’s Casino Resort in South Lake Tahoe October 11 – 13.  The turnout was good and everyone seemed to have something on their mind with respect to one issue or another impacting California bail bond agents.Cbaa2009A  
   Depending on where you operate in California, you could be dealing with any number of problems.  In northern California they’re dealing with pretrial release, credit card kiosks and cities limiting the number of bonding companies around the jail.  In the southern part of the state they’re dealing with excessive OR releases, large bond schedules and uncontrolled marketeers on the steps of the courthouse and jails.
CBAA and Golden State Combine Forces to Protect Industry
Perhaps it’s the size of California, they have multiple baseball and football teams and the bail industry has two associations representing their interests.   The California Bail Agents Association and the Golden State Bail Agents Association held a joint meeting during this year’s conference to discuss a variety of issues facing the bail industry.  This meeting was a continuation of the commitment they had made in Las Vegas in February to begin working together in the common interests of their respective members.
Credit Cards Charging Forward
   California is seeing the beginnings of a movement to introduce credit card kiosks to county jails.  At least one company, Government Payment Express (GovPay), has entered into agreements with sheriffs to place a kiosk in their jail which will provide several services, one of which is posting cash bail on a credit card.  According to an advertisement placed in the California Sheriffs Association newsletter, GovPay promises to pay the sheriff 15% of each processing.  Can anyone say payoff?  Rest assured this financial relationship is being looked into to determine if it’s legal or ethical. 
Post Conviction Bond Still a Possibility
   California is about to release tens of thousands of prisoners upon the public.  With over 174,000 offenders in California state prisons (200% of capacity) and with a daily housing cost of $11 million, something has to be done.  A post conviction bond is just one option being considered to manage those offenders which must be released early due to prison crowding.  Mississippi has a post conviction bond in place while Michigan just passed its own version of this bond.  Assemblyman Curt Hagman continues to work with CBAA, GSBAA and surety companies to get a post conviction bond passed in California.
House Cleaning?
  Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich spoke to CBAA members and made assurances something would be done about the excessive marketing around jails deemed to be problems.  He reported that some arrests have been made for negotiating bail without a license.
What’s next?
   Georgia, Michigan,Texas and South Carolina all have meetings scheduled over the next several weeks.  I will be attending the annual meeting of the Professional Bondsmen of Texas later this week in San Antonio.  I hope to see you there!