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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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No parking anytime! Unless you want to.

Moving towards a Softer, More Gentle Criminal Justice System I’ve been parking in the same lot at the Indianapolis airport for several years now.  In the past year or so I began noticing people were parking in areas marked in yellow and at the end of rows where there were no marked spaces.  The first time I saw this I figured, that car will be surely be towed.  However, when I got back in town a few days later that same car was still there, untouched.  In fact, a bright orange traffic cone had been lovingly placed near the bumper by security, to protect the vehicle.  It wasn’t long before more and more people began parking in spots not meant for parking and more and more orange cones were being…
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Are Supporters of Criminal Welfare Winning?

Crime victims, increased crime, a degraded criminal justice system and unsafe communities are never discussed by supporters of reform efforts that make it easier for criminal offenders.  All focus is on a manufactured number of individuals arrested on probable cause of committing a crime, who are perceived as being held in custody pre-trial simply because they cannot afford bail.  An assertion that has been debunked each time the argument has been put forth as fact. There have been many efforts through the years to ease the strain, stress and economic impact on those arrested for crimes.  In turn, attempting to move the burden from those individuals to those law-abiding taxpayers who have suffered from their actions.  In 2013 the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators agreed…
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A Horrific Night in Las Vegas

I was in Las Vegas this past Sunday to attend the annual conference of the California Bail Agents Association.  California bail agents were in attendance to receive an update on legislative efforts to eliminate commercial bail in that state and replace it with an unproven methodology known as a risk assessment tool. It was around 10:30 P.M. Sunday evening when word began circulating about gun fire on the strip.  It was assumed the shooting occurred at one of the city’s many bars, but it wasn’t long before the media began reporting a gunman was taking sniper shots at a crowd of more than 22,000 concert goers at an outdoor venue.  We now know 59 people were murdered that evening with more than 500 injured.  It has been reported to be…
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New Lawsuits Challenge Bail Reform/Risk Assessment

Within the last sixty days, there have been three lawsuits filed challenging the constitutionality and veracity of recent changes to the bail systems in New Jersey and New Mexico.  Issues include, ankle bracelets in lieu of a bail bond, risk assessment tools and the overreach of a state supreme court. It is well known, at the beginning of the year, New Jersey moved to a statewide pretrial release program that utilizes the Arnold Foundation risk assessment tool, a tool that is promoted as an effective means to determine if an offender is a risk to public safety or risk of flight.  Bail bonds remain a legal release option in The Garden State though a judge must jump through several hoops before bail can be required or permitted.  Largely, offenders are…
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The Tolls of Justice

I received a text last Friday from American Surety Company bail agent and longtime friend Harley Esparza about the cost of tolls.  Harley operates out of Corona, California.  He was sitting in “working mans” traffic while those with deeper pockets were paying the going rate of $20.85 to take the express lane home on a busy Friday afternoon.  Apparently, those who can afford it pay as much $90 in tolls during a daily commute.  That can amount to an annual toll tab of more than $12,000, too much for Harley, too much for most. On July 1, a new gas tax of 1.9 cents went into effect in California.  This may not seem like much but California’s gas prices are routinely a dollar higher than that of the rest of…
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