South Bend, Indiana – A number of concerned bail agents answered a call to action and made their way, from points all around the state, to South Bend on Wednesday, June 8.
The purpose of this call to action was to have as many bail agents as possible register with St. Joseph County Clerk of Court and the jail to write bail in a county which for the last 40 years has accepted only 10% of the bond in cash, no bail bonds accepted.
Needless to say, when 25 bail agents descended upon the county clerk’s office in South Bend it caused quite a stir. Phones were ringing all over town. What’s a bail bond? How do we file a qualifying power and what do we do with it once it’s filed? We would have found this amusing if not for the serious nature of this effort. Ultimately, they did accept file stamped our qualifying powers and the St. Joseph County Jail did accept our filed copies. Step one of our mission was accomplished.
Our next step will be to raise awareness among the citizens of this part of the state that the use of deposit bail is a failed system. Failures to appear create more work for an already overburdened sheriff’s department and generates public safety concerns with thousands of outstanding felony warrants.
Judges fiercely protect the right to apply discretion, yet they abandon their discretion when they apply deposit bail as a “one shoe fits all” solution to guaranteeing a defendant’s appearance in court. St. Joseph County judges exacerbate an already insufficient bond deposit by allowing the early release of all or part of the cash deposit to the criminal attorney for their fee prior to the bond being exonerated.
Thank you to all the bail agents who joined our first Qualification Day event. Your commitment to the betterment and preservation of our industry has not gone unnoticed. Please watch for information on how you can participate in further efforts to curb the use of ineffective deposit bail in the State of Indiana.