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Hilton Head Site of GAPB Meeting

Hilton Head, SC - GAPB usually holds its spring meeting on St.SimonsIsland in Southeastern Georgia.  This year they opted to go across state lines to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and the Westin Hotel.  The turnout was respectable though I expected more bondsmen to be present in light of the recent enactment of House Bill 889.   Speaking of HB 889, Scott Hall, GAPB Legislative Chair, gave an extensive overview of the efforts which led to the successful passing of this pivotal piece of legislation.  Scott went into detail on how HB 889 will benefit all bondsmen operating in Georgia.   The language of HB 889 leaves nothing to the imagination, if an offender is arrested for a felony offense of anything from DUI to trafficking in cocaine they will be…
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Indiana Bail Agents Meet in Indy

The Indiana Surety Bail Agents Association held its Spring General Membership meeting at the Hilton Hotel in Indianapolis on Tuesday.   Elections were held in accordance with the By-Laws and Tony Widgery was reelected as President of ISBAA.  Gary Logue replaced Linda Stamper as Treasurer while David Akers and Gary Good were elected to replace outgoing Area Directors, Kelly Bertholet and Dale Lanning.   Aaron Weese, a Virginia bondsmen and a representative of Virginians for the Preservation of Bail (now Americans for the Preservation of Bail) was the featured speaker.  Mr. Weese informed attendees on recent efforts to limit Pretrial Services of Virginia to only providing free bail to those offenders qualified as being of indigent status.  While their legislative effort did not succeed, this organization was successful in reducing…
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GAPB on a Legislative Roll

Over the last several years the Commercial Bail Industry has applied a forward press against unsecured release options, pretrial release, deposit bail and excessive OR releases by legislatively establishing that offenders charged with certain felony offenses would be ineligible for release on an unsecured bond without direct authorization by an elected judge. The Georgia Association of Professional Bondsmen (GAPB) followed a productive 2009 legislative effort with the passing of ground breaking legislation that requires GPS monitor providers to act as surety and the granting of bond exonerations for defendants who have been deported by passing bail restrictions legislation.   HB 889 received a favorable vote in the House yesterday and will now be sent to the governor to be signed into law.  Once signed, HB 889 will severely restrict the ability of offenders charged with a broad range of felony charges from being…
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Ballot Initiative in Colorado to Limit Free Release

I was in Denver last Friday to attend a brief, though not insignificant, hearing in the basement of the Colorado State Capitol.  The hearing, which lasted no more than 15 minutes was a procedural step in moving forward a ballot initiative that would require the posting of a secured bail bond for all crimes other than a first offense, non violent felonies or misdemeanors. The ballot initiative is being put forth by an organization called Safe Streets Colorado.   In order to get an initiative on the ballot for the upcoming November election, Safe Streets Colorado must obtain 5% of the voter turnout in the most recent election held for the Secretary of State.  In this case, 5% equals 76,000. There are significant costs involved with a ballot initiative.  They will need a website and…
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ASC-USI Launches New Website

Indianapolis, Indiana - Through the years American Surety Company and Underwriters Surety, Inc. (ASC-USI) has been vigilant in our efforts to keep not only our retail partners informed, but the bail industry at large.    Our efforts began more than a decade ago when we launched the first version of www.ASC-USI.com in 1998.  Through the years www.asc-usi.com has been a proven resource to the commercial bail industry.  Our site has continued to provide the information and resource material to fight pretrial release, deposit bail and excessive OR releases, legislative updates, bail related case summaries and commentary on issues impacting bail agents. It’s been more than ten years since we first took the bail industry by storm with our 26 page full color magazine that provided fair and balanced coverage of…
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It’s Simple Math – Deposit Bonds Don’t Add Up

Indianapolis, IN - An article appeared recently on NewsandTribune.com entitled Released on Bond: A flawed system?  The article was written by Matt Thacker.  The article takes aim at the deposit bond program employed by the Clark County courts in Jeffersonville, IN.  Jeffersonville is located just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky.  Bail is outlawed in Kentucky but that’s a story for another day. The Released article cites two studies, an unnamed study from 2008 where 31 percent (30) of Indiana counties responded to a survey.  The study concluded that 47% of $5.3 million collected by the courts on cash bond deposits in 2008 went to the county.  The article also cites the 2007 Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) study that said 30% of those defendants released on an unsecured…
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Round One Goes to VA Bail Agents, Taxpayers

We have been keeping you informed, through our American Surety Company Legislative Update, about the ongoing efforts of Virginians for the Preservation of Bail (VPOB) to bring about reform of taxpayer funded Pretrial Services in the Commonwealth.   VPOB introduced H.B. 728 which would require an offender to be brought before a judge and determined to be indigent before they can be released through a pretrial service agency. I traveled to Richmond, Virginia this past Tuesday to attend the first hearing on H.B. 728.  A number of bail agents, both surety and property writers, met outside the General Assembly Building adjacent to the Capitol Building to show their support for H.B. 728. Supporters waited several hours before H.B. 728 was finally brought before the House of Delegates Subcommittee for Courts of Justice.  …
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Commercial Bail The Answer to Philly’s Broken Bail System

Philadelphia, PA – Yesterday, Senator Arlen Specter held a hearing at the National Constitution Center entitled "Exploring Federal Solutions to the State and Local Fugitive Crises." Philadelphia, the Nation’s sixth largest city with a population of more than 1.6 million and more than 40,000 outstanding warrants for failure to appear, is the logical site for a hearing on fugitives.  I was present for the hearing along with Cheryl Burns of Bail USA and Terry Allen of the Federal Strategy Group.  ABC has been working with Terry Allen on matters related to commercial bail at the federal level. Philadelphia has been in a state of flux after a recent series of articles appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer addressing, in part, that city’s broken bail bond system and the failure to collect…
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Bail Industry Proactive in 2010

Multiple States Have Efforts Underway to Preserve Bail Profession  The last year of the decade may prove to be a memorable one for commercial bail as bail agents and surety companies alike will be working together to protect and expand this honorable profession.  As a bail bonds agent, if you're not aware of what's happening in  your state then you're just not paying attention.  If you're currently not participating in protecting the bail industry in your state then you're doing yourself and your profession a disservice.  Make 2010 the year you make a difference. Here is just a sample of what's happening across the country. California Credit card kiosks have made their way into several California jails causing much concern to bail agents.  As a result, the legality of placing credit cards kiosks…
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Missouri Holds 4th Meeting on Bail Reform

      Jefferson City - The Missouri State Legislature passed legislation earlier this year, a 62 page bill (H.B. 577) which, in part required the Missouri Department of Insurance to "conduct a study regarding its licensing rules and other policies and procedures governing the bail bond industry".    H.B. 577 suggested the Department of Insurance hold hearings and permit testimony from representatives of law enforcement, judiciary, bail agents and surety bail bond companies.  Four hearings were held with the last hearing held at the state capital on Tuesday, November 10.  I attended that hearing.    Approximately 15 people sat on the panel hearing testimony, of which several were bail agents.  Testimony was largely given by bail agents writing on personal assets identified in Section 374.700 of the Missouri Revised Statutes as a Property Bail Bondsmen.    The testimony from some of the property agents keyed on the low barrier…
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