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 not familiar with how the bail system works. Unfortunately for them, those folks were in the minority on this day.
Representatives of the bail industry provided opposition testimony pointing out major concerns with AB 42. The government pretrial release program would cost California taxpayers as much as $3.5 billion a year and cause tremendous jail crowding as offenders who would typically post bail soon after arrest, would wait days for a risk assessment before bail their bail is determined. Nina Salerno of Crimes Victims United spoke emphatically about how AB 42 totally disregards crime victims.
Following testimony, the committee chair held an open mic for anyone wishing to speak in opposition to AB 42. Be careful what you ask for. Bail agents stepped forward one by one for twenty minutes to voice their opposition and they kept coming until everyone had their say. What the committee and the bill authors saw was a diverse group of men and women from throughout the entire State of California who were very passionate about their profession and their role within the criminal justice system. Duane Chapman was also present and took a few questions about fugitive recovery.
AB 42 was voted out of the Public Safety Committee with one Democrat abstaining after voicing her concerns and two Republicans voting no. The committee chair also voiced his concerns for the bill as currently written.
After 35 years in this business I guess I’m getting a little soft. I get little gushy when I see the huge turnout of bail agents like we had at the State Capitol on Tuesday. The agent associations, surety associations and large retailers have put together an A-Team of legislative advocates who are doing an excellent job assisting us to inform legislators about the pit falls of this overreaching legislation. There is still work to be done and it is the hope of everyone that the next call to the Capitol will bring three times the bail agents. We will keep you posted.