Bail in Indiana and Tennessee Differ

This past week I attended the ISBAA Spring Meeting in Indianapolis and the TAPBA General Meeting and Continuing Education Class in Pigeon Forge. You could not pick two more distinctly different bail bond markets and associations if you tried. Both states have their market threats and both have an upside.
For starters, the number of licensed bail agents in Indiana has shrunk to 350 while Tennessee boasts around 1400 bail agents. Bail agents in Indiana must write with corporate surety backing while Tennessee has the option to write either through a surety or on personal assets.
Both Indiana and Tennessee offer classes for required continuing education. While the ISBAA had sixty bail agents attend the CE portion of the Spring Meeting, Tennessee had more than 350 in attendance at their class.  One significant difference is Tennessee law requires all bail agents to obtain their CE credits through classes provided by TAPBA, while the ISBAA must attract agents who are willing to support the state association through membership dues and in return obtain free CE classes. The vital revenue ISBAA must generate from membership dues has been adversely impacted by low cost providers and attendees with little or no interest in supporting the preservation of bail in the Hoosier State.
How premium is collected is another area where these two states differ. In Indiana it is a Class D Felony for a bail agent to charge less than their surety’s filed premium rate, typically ten percent of the bond. Tennessee also has a ten percent premium rate though agents can extend credit to their clients. Several judges in Tennessee have begun to speak out about the extension of credit to criminal defendants seeking bond.   Some of these judges are considering promulgating a local rule in contradiction to state law; premium must be collected in full prior to posting a bond.
Then there is the issue of fugitive recovery. Bounty hunting has become a topic of conversation in Tennessee with several fugitive recovery mishaps making the news lately. Currently, the Volunteer State has no meaningful rules or regulations pertaining to bounty hunting. The TAPBA is being proactive, working to pass legislation to effectively regulate private sector fugitive recovery in their state. Indiana does issue a Recovery Agent license to those individuals that meet the requirements and pass an exam.
Indiana and Tennessee are different yet very similar. Both have hard working bail agents working long hours with virtually never a day off. Both are doing their level best to make a sunny impact on the darker side of the communities, a cog in the wheel of justice.
ISBAA Meeting Notes
  • Jim Degan was elected Vice President.
  • Smeed v. State – Indiana Appellate Court decision requiring courts to accept a bail bond in lieu of cash.
  • SB 525 (Enacted) – Late Surrender Fee and Recovery Agent forms can now be filed with the two year license renewal application.
  • SB 590 (Enacted) – The deportation of a defendant is grounds for exoneration of the bond.
TAPBA Meeting Notes
  •  Re-elected were Charles White, Sr. (President), Danny Blankenship (Vice President), Miriam Lawson (Secretary) and Ronnie Carter (Treasurer).
  • Nearly $3,000,000 has been generated in bail bond taxes collected and submitted by bail agents
  • TAPBA pledged $5000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the Holly Bobo case. Holly Bobo was abducted from her Darden, Tennessee home April 13, 2011.
  • CRTK – Prior to the passing of Citizens Right to Know Legislation (pretrial date reporting requirements), Davidson and Knox Counties have both agreed to provide statistical information on their taxpayer funded pretrial release programs. Shelby County has taken the matter under consideration.