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AG Barr Gives Low Grade to NM on Criminal Justice

[caption id="attachment_13124" align="alignleft" width="300"] Michael J. Whitlock[/caption] Justifying his efforts to eliminate bail requirements for criminal offenders, the late New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Charles Daniels, stated during an interview by KOB4 posted August 4, 2017, “There are very few that actually go on the run. Most of the people in New Mexico and nationally do it for the same reason they don’t make their doctor’s and their dentist’s appointments.” U.S. Attorney General William Barr was in Albuquerque last week to announce the capture of 325 fugitives by a federal and state joint task force in the Albuquerque area. During his press conference AG Barr lamented New Mexico’s criminal laws were subpar. That the judiciary was not detaining violent offenders pending trial which is allowable now that New Mexico amended its state…
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The Granite State Rethinking Bail Reform

[caption id="attachment_13124" align="alignleft" width="300"] Where in the World is Mike Whitlock[/caption] New Hampshire, the fifth smallest state in the nation established a summer study committee to review bail reform legislation passed in 2018.  On behalf of the American Bail Coalition I traveled east this week to testify at a Wednesday hearing at the state capital, together with the lone actively writing bail agent in the state. The passing of SB 556 had an immediate and profound impact on New Hampshire’s pretrial release system once unsecured bail became the presumptive form of release.  Bail agent Julie Carkhuff testified she wrote 165 bonds in August 2018 (the month preceding SB 556 going into effect) compared to just 16 bonds in August 2019.  So, 150 defendants who previously could afford to pay for…
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Wanted: Gen X, Y & Z

By Michael J. Whitlock I'm a Baby Boomer, so they tell me. I was born in 1963, eight months before John F. Kennedy was assassinated and a week after they [caption id="attachment_13112" align="alignright" width="225"] Mike Whitlock with veteran Indiana Bail Agent Terry Robbins at his office in Lafayette, IN[/caption] shuttered Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. It would be 19 years before I would get my first job in bail running bonds for a Dallas bonding company, I had no idea at the time the bail industry would be my profession for the next 37 years and counting. When I moved to Indianapolis as an employee of Allied Fidelity, it provided an opportunity to learn more about the surety company-bail agent relationship from experienced veterans. I was eager to expand my knowledge of…
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Criminal Welfare Movement Jumps the Shark

[caption id="attachment_12999" align="alignleft" width="214"] Michael J. Whitlock[/caption] Yesterday will be a day to remember in Houston, TX, if not the nation.  The Harris County Commissioners Court in a 3-2 decision approved a proposed settlement in the lawsuit against Harris County over its bail system.  To paraphrase the settlement language, Harris County agreed to hand over the keys to the city to repeat offenders and write a huge check to the plaintiff.  This was a seminal moment in the national fight for criminal welfare. The settlement, should it go on to be approved by Federal Magistrate Rosenthal, will release 85 percent of those arrested on misdemeanor charges and cost the county $59 million to $97 million over seven years.  Using government math, you can easily triple these figures. Commissioner R. Jack…
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Pretrial Risk Assessment Tools Criticized, Again

[caption id="attachment_13061" align="alignright" width="300"] Mike Whitlock testifies in opposition to SB 318 in the California Assembly Committee on Insurance.[/caption] Michael J. Whitlock Last week the Department of Justice announced 3,100 Federal inmates will be set free under the First Step Act of 2018.  The acceleration of release is brought about by the Act’s provision to increase time credited for good behavior.  The cost of implementing the FSA will cost $75 million annually, a cost which is sure to increase over time.  The Risk and Needs Assessment System (RNAS) will be used to find those federal prisoners that may meet the qualifications for pre-release. The FSA was sold on the fact its implementation would only impact convicted felons doing time for minor drug offenses. We’ve heard this sales pitch before.  Supporters…
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Money Bail is Prevailing

[caption id="attachment_12998" align="alignright" width="300"] With Shawn Hulin at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_12999" align="alignleft" width="138"] Michael J. Whitlock[/caption] Since I last posted a blog in March, I've traveled all over the country. I've spent time in New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas (twice) and Washington State. It was a mixture of visiting American Surety Company agent-partners, attending state association meetings and working on behalf of the American Bail Coalition. At every stop, the topic of discussion was the push for criminal justice reform and how it would impact the use of commercial bail, or "cash bail" as some like to call it. While it is true, California passed SB 10 in 2018 and New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a budget last month that…
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True Story – Jail Sucks

True story. In 1983 I was working for Sutton Taylor at Capital Bail Bonds in downtown Dallas. Some of my Texas friends remember Sutton. I was a bond runner. The duties of a runner are what you might expect. There are many city jails (Mesquite, Irving, Addison, Garland, etc.) throughout Dallas County. My job was to run bonds to those city jails and get them signed by the defendant. I would then drive back downtown to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office to obtain a release form. I would return to the city jail, turn in the release form, and haul the defendant back to the office where I would complete an application and get four pictures of the defendant in the photo booth. Remember photo booths? Once completed I would…
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How Will the CA Bail Industry Fund a No-SB10 PR Campaign? Asking for a Friend

Governor Brown signed SB10 on 8/28/18. Even though SB10 is a fragile, ill-advised, unfunded, industry killing, bureaucracy birthing, unconstitutional piece of crap, it is still set to become operative 10/1/19. That is, until the Referendum to overturn SB10 is certified. Once this is done SB10 will lay dormant until the next statewide election to be held on 11/3/2020 It should not be news to you the projected cost of the PR effort to get Californians to vote No to SB10 is a staggering 10-15 million dollars. The cost of the signature campaign to get a referendum on the ballot to overturn SB10 is a drop in the bucket by comparison. How will the millions needed for the PR campaign be raised? Will a hat be passed among bail agents and…
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Stop SB10 Signature Campaign Is On Pace

After Governor Brown signed SB10, August 28, 2018, the California bail industry took on the daunting task of collecting 565,000 signatures (3% of the turnout of the most recent election) in a statewide signature campaign. The deadline for submission is November 26, 2018.   The team hired by the coalition of surety companies operating in California have been working double time collecting verifiable signatures from registered California voters. Bail agent volunteers have been doing their part to collect signatures in their market. It's been a team effort and we're making great progress!   If you are part of the volunteer team it is import to for you to do two things 1) make sure you do not co-mingle signatures from different county residents on one signature form: keep counties separate…
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48-Hours

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday released a critical decision on a motion for stay filed by the Harris County Criminal Court Judges, defendants in ODonnell v. Harris County Judges. A ruling that was filed August 14.   Harris County has spent millions of dollars providing a defense for their 14 judges in a case that is currently on appeal in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals out of New Orleans. The 5th ruled in favor of the Judges and granted a stay of the trial court’s preliminary injunction which thus far has permitted thousands of arrestees to be released with no bail, resulting in a near 50% failure to appear rate.   I don’t have a law degree or a shingle, but I recognize a positive ruling when I…
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