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Common Sense is Making a Comeback

Michael J. Whitlock June 15, 2021 Early on in my upbringing, I would do something stupid, and my dad would give me a sideways look and sometimes a slap to the back of the head and ask “where is your #%$*ing common sense?” From that point on, I tried to limit making similar errors in judgment as I rolled through life to reasonable success. Criminal Justice reform efforts over the last several years have been less than nuanced, to say the least. Reformers have taken an all or nothing approach and where this has been successful, has caused a steady increase in crime across the nation; the dreaded “unintended consequences.” Alaska, New York, and Utah are three states who recently rolled back enacted bail reform after a meaningful increase in crime and…
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Remembering Texas Bondsman Jim Lane

By Michael J. Whitlock August 3, 2020 I heard the sad news earlier this week Jim Lane had died. I've known Jim for about 15 years. My interaction with Jim over that time was largely through PBT. Jim also provided some assistant to our company with cleaning up an agency we had in Parker County. I didn't ask, Jim reached out to me to offer some assistance. That's the kind of man he was. In more recent years Jim and I connected over BBQ. You shouldn't judge a man by the size of his smoker but Jim's was much larger than mine. During the last several years, Jim and Mike Byrd would smoke up a bunch of brisket, chicken and sausage at PBT-Austin meetings following the Steven G. Whitlock Memorial…
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CJR Pendulum Reaching Apex

By: Michael J. Whitlock I dropped down to Atlanta on Monday to attend a golf outing for Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat.  The event was held at the Country Club of the South.  A beautiful and challenging golf course. But I digress.  Sheriff Labat and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, both newly elected, recently gave the what-for to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners over insufficient funding for staffing and equipment needed in their efforts to fight the surge in crime and to prosecute a mountain of pending cases.  Law  enforcement is bringing sexy back. People are getting fed up with the ever-increasing rate of crime across all offenses.  When I say people, I mean law enforcement, prosecutors, law-abiding citizens, business owners and most importantly, crime victims.  How many…
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Where in the World is Mike Whitlock

[caption id="attachment_13124" align="alignleft" width="164"] Michael J. Whitlock[/caption] My wife Marcia and I carpooled to work today.  I said nothing when my bride continued talking about work while Martina McBride sang Independence Day on the radio.  Today’s her birthday so she gets a pass.  Marcia raised our four kids and tolerated my intense travel schedule over the last 32 years.  It was the least I could do. Speaking of travel, I was in Tallahassee earlier this week to attend the Florida Surety Agents Association meeting.  FSAA legislative advocate Shawn Foster put together an amazing lineup of legislators to speak to the group.  It was refreshing to hear from lawmakers who have not succumb to the pressure of passing overreaching criminal justice reforms.  So far there have been no reform measures introduced…
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2020 Vision – Number One Media Market brings Bail Reform into Focus

Indiana Fraternal Order of Police President Rick Snyder held a news conference yesterday in Indianapolis to discuss his #WheresTheOutrage initiative and Indy’s “local broken system of catch and release.”  Violence has been on the rise in the Circle City for the last several months.  Just this morning, Rick Snyder tweeted, “ANOTHER person shot overnight in Indy brings city to 112 people shot, 44 stabbed and 28 killed in last 56 days. That’s 156 shot or stabbed!” In his presser, Mr. Snyder decried the fact repeat violent offenders were regularly being released from jail on $500 cash bonds with an ankle monitor.  That when the offender cuts off the monitor, they are arrested, charged with escape and re-released on a $500 bond with an ankle monitor, “how does this make sense…
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AG Barr Gives Low Grade to NM on Criminal Justice

[caption id="attachment_13124" align="alignleft" width="300"] Michael J. Whitlock[/caption] Justifying his efforts to eliminate bail requirements for criminal offenders, the late New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Charles Daniels, stated during an interview by KOB4 posted August 4, 2017, “There are very few that actually go on the run. Most of the people in New Mexico and nationally do it for the same reason they don’t make their doctor’s and their dentist’s appointments.” U.S. Attorney General William Barr was in Albuquerque last week to announce the capture of 325 fugitives by a federal and state joint task force in the Albuquerque area. During his press conference AG Barr lamented New Mexico’s criminal laws were subpar. That the judiciary was not detaining violent offenders pending trial which is allowable now that New Mexico amended its state…
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The Granite State Rethinking Bail Reform

[caption id="attachment_13124" align="alignleft" width="300"] Where in the World is Mike Whitlock[/caption] New Hampshire, the fifth smallest state in the nation established a summer study committee to review bail reform legislation passed in 2018.  On behalf of the American Bail Coalition I traveled east this week to testify at a Wednesday hearing at the state capital, together with the lone actively writing bail agent in the state. The passing of SB 556 had an immediate and profound impact on New Hampshire’s pretrial release system once unsecured bail became the presumptive form of release.  Bail agent Julie Carkhuff testified she wrote 165 bonds in August 2018 (the month preceding SB 556 going into effect) compared to just 16 bonds in August 2019.  So, 150 defendants who previously could afford to pay for…
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Wanted: Gen X, Y & Z

By Michael J. Whitlock I'm a Baby Boomer, so they tell me. I was born in 1963, eight months before John F. Kennedy was assassinated and a week after they [caption id="attachment_13112" align="alignright" width="225"] Mike Whitlock with veteran Indiana Bail Agent Terry Robbins at his office in Lafayette, IN[/caption] shuttered Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. It would be 19 years before I would get my first job in bail running bonds for a Dallas bonding company, I had no idea at the time the bail industry would be my profession for the next 37 years and counting. When I moved to Indianapolis as an employee of Allied Fidelity, it provided an opportunity to learn more about the surety company-bail agent relationship from experienced veterans. I was eager to expand my knowledge of…
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Criminal Welfare Movement Jumps the Shark

[caption id="attachment_12999" align="alignleft" width="214"] Michael J. Whitlock[/caption] Yesterday will be a day to remember in Houston, TX, if not the nation.  The Harris County Commissioners Court in a 3-2 decision approved a proposed settlement in the lawsuit against Harris County over its bail system.  To paraphrase the settlement language, Harris County agreed to hand over the keys to the city to repeat offenders and write a huge check to the plaintiff.  This was a seminal moment in the national fight for criminal welfare. The settlement, should it go on to be approved by Federal Magistrate Rosenthal, will release 85 percent of those arrested on misdemeanor charges and cost the county $59 million to $97 million over seven years.  Using government math, you can easily triple these figures. Commissioner R. Jack…
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Pretrial Risk Assessment Tools Criticized, Again

[caption id="attachment_13061" align="alignright" width="300"] Mike Whitlock testifies in opposition to SB 318 in the California Assembly Committee on Insurance.[/caption] Michael J. Whitlock Last week the Department of Justice announced 3,100 Federal inmates will be set free under the First Step Act of 2018.  The acceleration of release is brought about by the Act’s provision to increase time credited for good behavior.  The cost of implementing the FSA will cost $75 million annually, a cost which is sure to increase over time.  The Risk and Needs Assessment System (RNAS) will be used to find those federal prisoners that may meet the qualifications for pre-release. The FSA was sold on the fact its implementation would only impact convicted felons doing time for minor drug offenses. We’ve heard this sales pitch before.  Supporters…
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