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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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Spelunking in the Caverns of the Criminal Justice System

Like the rest of the world, I watched with fascination and anticipation while 12 Taiwanese boys and their soccer coach awaited rescue from their pitch-black safe-haven 2.5 miles deep into a mountain.  An ill-timed spelunking expedition. What a feeling of exhilaration there must have been among the young boys when, after 14 days of silence and darkness, a light from two British divers broke through the water.  The bravery displayed by the stranded boys and their coach, the heroism demonstrated time and again by the international team of frogmen renews one’s faith in the human spirit.  Proving once again, when people are faced with a crisis, cooler heads and open minds can solve just about any problem. In many respects there have been groups of would-be reformers conducting ill-advised cave…
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Rio Grande Valley Agent Association Making its Mark

When we think of associations for the bail industry, we tend to think of national groups like ABC and PBUS or state associations such as CBAA, PBAI, PBT or SCBAA. One must really think hard to come up with county level bail associations. I can think of San Diego, Orange and Santa Clara counties in California or Tarrant and Harris counties in Texas.  There is one other Texas county association way down in The Valley of the Rio Grande showing some grit, the Hidalgo County Bail Bond Association. McAllen and Edinburg are the two largest cities in Hidalgo County with a population of nearly 850,000 residents. They are situated in what is known as The Valley, a four-county region which sits on the Rio Grande River across from Mexico. Former Speaker of the House,…
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The Loss of a Good Man

  Yesterday, 19 year old Robert Dew was formally charged with the murder of veteran bail agent Byron Frierson, Sr., owner of No Limit Bail Bonds in Indianapolis, IN   The news of the loss of Byron came as a severe blow to those of us who knew and worked with him. Byron was a giant of a man, not only in size but in spirit and generosity.   Byron was a leader in his community and a leader in his profession, bail bonds. When local bail agents gathered to discuss issues they typically met in Byron's office at No Limit Bail Bonds. He was looked to for guidance and support. Byron and I talked often during his regular visits to American Surety Company's headquarters north of downtown Indianapolis. He…
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2018 Will Be Pivotal Year For Bail

Happy New Year!  I confess, this last year, my 35th working in the bail industry, was a trial indeed.  Spending more than 75 nights away from home, it was my busiest travel season yet.  Regrettably, this time was not all spent on promoting our company, American Surety Company, but rather working with my peers in the industry to preserve a vital component of the criminal justice system that has been around for more than a century, surety bail bonds. The warriors of social justice have been working double time to replace judicial discretion on determination of bail with an algorithm based risk assessment tool that many state legislators, state supreme courts justices and state courts have been quick to support, perhaps too quick.  In the wake of their hasty decisions,…
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Thousands of Unprocessed Rape-Kits Nationally

All over the news lately is talk of the tens of thousands of rape-kits around the country that have never been processed.  An alarming number of these kits documenting a violent event in someone’s life, have been stockpiling for years, and in many cases, decades. My wife Marcia works for the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault (ICESA).  Last night I attended, with Marcia and our oldest daughter Sarah, a premier of Mariska Hargitay’s (Law and Order SVU) documentary film “I Am Evidence.”  The film focuses on rape-kits and how many states have stockpiled them for years with only a few being sent for DNA testing.  In 2009, it was discovered the City of Detroit had more than 10,000 unprocessed rape-kits being stored in a dilapidated building, where the evidence…
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