Call Today! 317-875-8700

Blog

ABC Rocks Las Vegas

ABC Rocks Las Vegas

Michael J. Whitlock If you were unable to attend the 7th Annual ABC Agent Conference in Las Vegas last week, that sucks for you, because it was the best one yet. A primary characteristic of an ABC conference is, no fuss no muss. A cocktail party on the eve of the conference followed by one day of all business. Information comes at you like a fire hose and then you go on with your life much more informed. This year's event was especially enlightening because it was by all accounts a good year for the bail industry. Another effort [caption id="attachment_14006" align="alignright" width="208"] American Surety Company President & CEO Bill Carmichael opens the conference[/caption] to put the bail industry out of business in California failed by a wide margin. Ohio…
Read More
PBT – Built Texas Tough

PBT – Built Texas Tough

Michael J. Whitlock, Executive Vice President I attended my first meeting of the Professional Bondsmen of Texas in 1989. The meeting was as I recall a well organized and well attended. PBT, like any association has faced its share of challenges. The trade group however demonstrated its toughness and resilience and has remained strong at its core. It is currently one of the strongest and most effective bail agent associations in the country. PBT's strength can be found in three specific areas: leadership, membership, and relationships. Their leadership starts at the top with President Mike Byrd and then funnels down through the standing committees. All the committees are strong, Legislative, Education and PR are the standouts. The Legislative Committee currently chaired by Scott Walstad was instrumental in getting SB6 passed into law in…
Read More

Dropping the Truth Bomb

By Michael J. Whitlock Every now and again amid the fog of war there is a direct hit on the opposition so profound it can shake the very foundation of their mission. In the case of pretrial justice, the side on the receiving end of the truth bomb must have been thunder-struck after coming face to face with the most incredible weapon, the facts. Unbeknownst to many of us working in the pretrial release space, there were a small group of people working on something in Texas akin to the Manhattan Project. They pooled their knowledge and resources, gathering and synthesizing information available to the public that would disarm their adversaries. The group unveiled their results last week on their website HarrisCountyCourtWatch.com. Harris County, Texas, with a population of 4.8…
Read More

My Life in Bail – Part Five: Contentment is the Enemy of Success

By Michael J. Whitlock It was the early 1990s and Underwriters Surety, Inc. now had a big sister, American Surety Company, an all-lines Property & Casualty carrier. ASC had begun its career licensed in one state, California, but was adding new states every year. Production during this period was split between direct business written through ASC and business written through USI’s bail program contracts with other surety companies. Colloquially, we referred to the company as ASC-USI. Contentment is the enemy of success, and I was anything but content in 1994. During this time, I was managing the Claims and Underwriting Departments and continuing my travels around the country conducting routine audits and troubleshooting. I still was not satisfied, I wanted to increase my value to the company. I was ambitious.…
Read More

My Life in Bail – Part Four: Profit and Loss

By Michael J. Whitlock, Executive Vice President The late eighties and early nineties would serve up good and bad, profit and loss.  During that time I was on the ground floor of a new startup, and I would get married, lose a brother and a father-in-law, see our first child born, and start a charity. It was a time of great change, both for better and for worse. One of the great things that happened is meeting and marrying the love of my life. My wife Marcia and I first met while working at Allied Fidelity. We married in 1988, and our first child came in 1992.  Marcia and I celebrated our thirty-fourth wedding anniversary earlier this year.  Anyone working in the bail profession can tell you, it can be…
Read More

My Life in Bail – Part Three: Year of the Rooster

By Michael J. Whitlock I am not sure if a white hearse with a giant rooster’s head bolted to the roof is a good omen or bad but it pulled up in front of Allied Fidelity’s office at lunch time in late January 1986. It was my dad’s 50th birthday and someone thought this would be a fun idea. As it turns out the rooster’s head would prove to be both a good and bad omen in 1986. Two years earlier in 1984, I had arrived in Indianapolis and started my job at Allied Fidelity’s Home Office on north Meridian Street. I was one of three underwriters working in the Underwriting Department. My manager was Terry Waltrip, and the head of the bail division was my dad, Jack Whitlock. In…
Read More

My Life in Bail – Part Two – Life Lessons

Michael J. Whitlock Earlier this week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled against the Southern Poverty Law Center in the case of Schultz v. Cullman, AL. In layman terms, the court ruled bail need not be affordable but be sufficient to ensure the defendant appears for trial. A huge victory for the rule of law and a blow to soft on crime initiatives. These legal issues were well beyond me when I first started working in bail in the winter of 1981. Having decided not to go to college, I needed to find a real job, so it was fortuitous I had received a call from my oldest brother Mark about some work. He was manning the third shift for Guarantee Bail Bonds in downtown Dallas.…
Read More

Four Decades in Bail – Part One

Michael J. Whitlock Executive Vice President This year, I entered my fortieth year working in the bail profession. I have been a surety representative for most of that time, but I started out working in what would become a career in a bail bond office on Commerce Street in downtown Dallas in 1982. Just over two decades later I would inherit my father Jack Whitlock’s office and desk, when he hung up his spurs in 2004. I would become one of three owners of American Surety Company just six years later. Fast forward to 2022, I am still sitting at the same desk, in a different office, contracting bail agents, traveling the country meeting with ASC agents, attending conferences, and working with the American Bail Coalition to preserve the right…
Read More

Trendy Bail Reforms Losing Appeal

Riding up the elevator this morning in our Indianapolis office, a nice lady commented she had not seen anyone in a coat and tie for a sometime, even pre-pandemic. I replied, I was among the holdouts not willing to give way to latest trends quite yet. There is one trend I gave up on before it really got going; criminal justice reforms, specifically bail reforms. Reforms that attempted to do away with personal accountability, go lightly on criminal offenders and disregard victims of crime. This trend is nearing its predictable demise as the general law-abiding public has been awoken to the adverse impact these problematic reforms have had on their everyday lives. They do not feel safe in their own communities due to the lawlessness and soft on crime policies.…
Read More

Indiana’s Bail Legislation Misses the Mark

By Michael J. Whitlock Let me set the stage in Indianapolis.  In the last 24 months there have been more than 500 homicides.  Judges are setting low bails and handing out get out of jail free cards on repeat offenders, many of whom were charged with violent offenses, and handing out electronic monitors in lieu of bail like candy. Charitable bail organizations continue to post bail without legal authority to do so and with no authority to compel a bailee to appear in court or arrest and return them if they do not. The Indiana Senate Republican Caucus announced a series of bills aimed at addressing these issues. Within this crime package is Senate Bill 6.  The aim of SB6, in part, is to raise the bar on those accused…
Read More