The Ohio Bail Agents Association held their third quarter meeting in Columbus this past Saturday. The discussion centered on the upcoming legislative season and the needs of the commercial bail bond industry in Ohio.
Similar to Indiana, Ohio courts are moving more and more toward the, revenue inspired, 10% bond option with many courts accepting to accept only 10% deposits; no bail bonds. This short sighted strategy by some Ohio courts has placed a strain on the criminal justice system through increased failure to appear warrants, reduced conviction rates and the disenfranchisement of victims of crime.
The State of Ohio is staring at an ugly $8 billion dollar budget shortfall in 2011 and must find ways to administer huge cuts in overhead. One of the areas being looked at is the state’s criminal justice system. Senator Bill Seitz (R) is the sponsor of SB 22, and a member of the Judiciary – Criminal Justice Senate Committee. SB 22 is a reform bill that addresses sentencing reform, GPS monitoring of inmates released early from prison and recommends releasing early, prisoners who have served 85% of their prison term.
Opportunity for Post Conviction Bond
The early release of prisoners is an area where the bail bond industry can offer an effective tool for getting parolees to comply with the terms of their release resulting in a decrease in the recidivism rate. A Bureau of Justice Statistics study of prisoners released in 2006 indicates Ohio had a 30% recidivism rate. The study shows, of the 11,621 inmates paroled in 2006, 3,486 were arrested on a new charge, absconded and remain at large or otherwise violated various terms of their parole.
By requiring as a condition of early release, the parolee obtain a Post Conviction Bond, family and friends would be brought into the process by providing a financial guarantee the defendant will comply with the terms of their parolee or risk returning to prison.
The use of a Post Conviction Bond would not interfere, in any way, with the work being done by parole officers. It would serve as additional incentive for the parolee to comply with the terms of their parolee and reintegrate into society.
I had the honor of meeting with Senator Seitz last October on behalf of the American Bail Coalition to discuss an amendment to SB 22 that would create an option for the parole board to require a Post Conviction Bond. The idea was well received and is still being considered.
The OBAA, which will hold their annual conference on September 23 and 25, is considering introducing legislation which require a bail bond be posted on defendants charged with an aggravated felony (bail restrictions), requiring a defendant to post a bail bond upon being rearrested for failing to appear on a deposit bond (One bite at the apple) and establishish a time certain for the court to notify the surety of a failure to appear.
OBAA President Eddie Miller is determined to see the passing of legislation that will benefit the bail bond industry in Ohio. Eddie said, “We have little chance at success without the support and participation of every licensed bail bond agent in this state.”
The bail bond industry in Ohio faces huge challenges ahead and will only succeed if the bail agents and surety companies operating in the Buckeye State work together as a cohesive unit. Success is within our reach. We just need to make it happen and we will.