I was in Las Vegas this past Sunday to attend the annual conference of the California Bail Agents Association. California bail agents were in attendance to receive an update on legislative efforts to eliminate commercial bail in that state and replace it with an unproven methodology known as a risk assessment tool.
It was around 10:30 P.M. Sunday evening when word began circulating about gun fire on the strip. It was assumed the shooting occurred at one of the city’s many bars, but it wasn’t long before the media began reporting a gunman was taking sniper shots at a crowd of more than 22,000 concert goers at an outdoor venue. We now know 59 people were murdered that evening with more than 500 injured. It has been reported to be the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
At the CBAA meeting the following day, the mass killing was on every attendee’s mind and in every conversation. People were calling home or posting on Facebook to alert their family and friends they were unharmed. The evil that is possible is difficult to comprehend.
Bail agents deal with people who run afoul of the law every day, though clearly not on the magnitude of mass murder. One of our primary arguments against a movement that, if successful, would lessen the expectation offenders will appear for court, is a risk assessment based on an unverified computer algorithm which most often recommends release on own recognizance, reduces or eliminates accountability and the expectation of performance.
At this meeting, we heard from several speakers including Jeff Clayton, Executive Director of the American Bail Coalition, Harmeet Dhillon, attorney representing CBAA on the motion to intervene in Buffin v. San Francisco, Assemblyman Jim Cooper and Patricia Wenskunas, Founder of Crime Survivors. All of whom spoke against the overreaching efforts to reform a bail system that has proven to be effective. The coalition of stakeholders fighting against these reforms in California is unlike any cooperative effort in our industry’s history. As a group, we have achieved much although this fight in California and nationally, is far from over.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of those killed or wounded during the deadly attack this past Sunday. A horrific act such as the one that took place will be difficult to overcome. As a nation, we have no choice but to continue.