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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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One Down, One to Go

CA AB42 Fails to Pass, SB10 Still Alive What a night it was last evening.  Many of us were watching Game 1 of the NBA Finals on one device and the California General Assembly on another.  The Golden State Warriors won their battle against LeBron James and the Cavaliers while all of California won when AB42 failed to a pass out of the General Assembly. AB42’s doppelganger in the Senate is SB10.  Senator Hertzberg’s SB10 passed out of the Senate earlier this week with little opposition.  The senator’s partner in bail reform Assemblyman Bonta, was not as fortunate.  Despite his efforts, Bonta’s AB42 went down late last night in a 36-37 vote.  He lost by one vote. What a tremendous effort by the lobbying team and everyone and every organization…
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Nevada Governor Veto’s Bail Reform Bill

Last week Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval returned AB136 unsigned, to the Speaker of The of the Nevada State Assembly.  Vetoed.  AB136 was the result of recommendations made by a Nevada Supreme Court Committee to Study Evidence-Based Pretrial Release.  The committee was chaired by Justice James W. Hardesty. Governor Sandoval wrote in his May 26, 2017 letter, “No conclusive evidence has been presented showing that the risk assessment methods proposed by AB136 are effective in determining when it may or may not be appropriate to release a criminal defendant without requiring bail.”  He went on to write, “It is not clear that the provisions of AB136 will enhance the ability of Nevada’s judges to make these determinations (bail) in a manner that balances the interests of justice and public safety.” Nevada was the second state…
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SB-10 Clears Appropriations

It wasn’t an hour after SB-10 cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday on a 5-2 vote, I began getting phone calls from California bail agents.  Is this it, are we done?  Are we out of business?  No, we’re not done and we’re not out of business.  While California bail agents and surety companies operating in the Golden State do have a huge fight on our hands, we can prevail. Proponents of these two criminal welfare bills SB-10 and AB-42 are probably feeling good today, their side advanced the ball.  There are still many plays left before either of these two measures can cross the goal line and become law. There is an adage in legislative circles, it’s easier to kill a bill than to pass one.  Our aim and the…
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SB-10 Clears Appropriations

It wasn’t an hour after SB-10 cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday on a 5-2 vote, I began getting phone calls from California bail agents.  Is this it, are we done?  Are we out of business?  No, we’re not done and we’re not out of business.  While California bail agents and surety companies operating in the Golden State do have a huge fight on our hands, we can prevail. Proponents of these two criminal welfare bills SB-10 and AB-42 are probably feeling good today, their side advanced the ball.  There are still many plays left before either of these two measures can cross the goal line and become law. There is an adage in legislative circles, it’s easier to kill a bill than to pass one.  Our aim and the…
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TX Legislators Deny SB 1338 – Preserve Accountability

 The 85th Texas Legislature is nearing its long-awaited conclusion. By all accounts that state’s long running bail system remains fully intact after a withering assault this session.  This legislature will be fallow in 2018 providing PBT’s Legislative Committee time to recoup after what could only be described as heroic efforts to fend off adverse legislation and keep Texas bail agents in business. It was ten long weeks ago on March 6, when Sen. Whitmire filed his bill, SB 1338.  The toxic measure was aimed at providing welfare to criminals, marginalizing the rights of victims and killing an entire industry.  In the months’ prior PBT was already alerting its members of Sen. Whitmire’s intention to file a bill that had the real potential to put them out of business. The Professional…
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California Bail Agents Answer the Call

Truckee, CA bail agent Leeann Curtis with Mike outside the State Capitol. Sacramento, CA - The call went out to all California bail agents to come to Sacramento to show support for their profession and oh did the heed the call. Room 126 of the State Capitol was filled to capacity with bail agents as was the corridor outside.  If you were not a bail agent you were claiming to be one just to be part of the crowd.   Assembly Bill 42 was first up on the agenda Tuesday morning at he  Public Safety Committee hearing.  Assemblymen Bonta is the author of this sister measure to Senate Bill 10, whose author is Senator Hertzberg, also in attendance.  Bonta and Hertzberg introduced the bill with wonderful facts and figures that would impress anyone…
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