Indiana’s Bail Legislation Misses the Mark

By Michael J. Whitlock Let me set the stage in Indianapolis.  In the last 24 months there have been more than 500 homicides.  Judges are setting low bails and handing out get out of jail free cards on repeat offenders, many of whom were charged with violent offenses, and handing out electronic monitors in lieu of bail like candy. Charitable bail organizations continue to post bail without legal authority to do so and with no authority to compel a bailee to appear in court or arrest and return them if they do not. The Indiana Senate Republican Caucus announced a series of bills aimed at addressing these issues. Within this crime package is Senate Bill 6.  The aim of SB6, in part, is to raise the bar on those accused…
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A Bail Agent’s Case for Ending Cash Bail

By Michael J. Whitlock For the last several years we have been inundated with calls to end “cash bail”. We hear on the radio, national news programs, Op-eds, and legislative hearings. Only the wealthy can afford to post cash bail while poor people languish in jail. I agree, it’s a problem. It has particularly been a problem in my home state of Indiana. We have counties in the Hoosier state that set cash only bail or provide an option to post a cash deposit equal to a mere 10% of the stated bail amount. We have judges in Marion County setting cash bail as low as $500 for illegal possession of a firearm, sex offenses against children and stabbing. This is a problem. Every state in the country provides that someone charged with crime has the…
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County Bail Association with Texas Size Impact

County Bail Association with Texas Size Impact

By Michael J. Whitlock Typically, at the end of each calendar year I’m a bit worn out from travel.  After being grounded in 2020, I was back on the road at my standard clip in 2021.  Yet even after 120 flights and 125,000 air miles, I feel rather refreshed.  Part of the reason may be, getting out to see the great people in the bail industry that I have come to know over the years.  Perhaps it’s the fact everyday people are starting to be heard on how the sharp increase in crime is negatively impacting public safety.  Or it could be witnessing the good work of associations like the Hidalgo County Bail Bond Association (HCBBA) is doing in South Texas. I’ve recognized the HCBAA, their president Rene Anzaldua and…
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Fall Bail Conferences Recap

By Michael J. Whitlock mwhitlock@asc-usi.com [caption id="attachment_13852" align="alignright" width="255"] Mike Whitlock speaks at the ABC Conference[/caption] It’s been a busy few weeks as fall bail conferences have been held in abundance.  I managed to attend three of those conferences. In an era of unprecedented attacks on the bail industry, a vital and effective component of the criminal justice system, the level of optimism among the conference attendees was palpable and refreshing. The 2021 American Bail Coalition Agent Conference held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, TN September 28-30, was a breath of fresh air.  If you were able to avoid getting lost in the maze of gardens at this giant hotel and make it to the meeting room, you would have received a wealth of information about the bail…
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Texas Bail Legislation Awaits Governor’s Signature – California SB 262 Pending

Texas Bail Legislation Awaits Governor’s Signature – California SB 262 Pending

By Michael J. Whitlock mwhitlock@asc-usi.com The Damon Allen Act, after failing to pass in 2019, was easily passed out of both chambers of the Texas State Legislature and is now awaiting Governor Greg Abbot's signature. There were a lot of people and organizations involved in the passing of The Damon Allen Act, appropriately named after a Texas Highway Patrol Officer who lost his life in the line of duty. Both the American Bail Coalition and the Professional Bondsmen of Texas played pivotal roles in educating legislators on the efficacy of secured bail and bail bonds in particularly. One must read the 40 page Act in order to fully digest its contents. The measure addresses everything from due process to prohibiting PR bonds for those charged with violent offenses to required…
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With Zero Bail Gone Cali’s SB 262 Still Dangerous

Michael J. Whitlock August 30, 2021 Another bill targeting the bail industry in California passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee last Thursday. SB 262 was passed without the “zero bail” language and next moves to the Assembly floor for a vote. A vote could take place as early as this week. Unfortunately, the remaining language in SB 262 should not only concern California’s bail agents but those seeking to purchase a bail bond in lieu of posting full cash with the court. If enacted, SB 262 will turn the bail system on its head. SB 262, if enacted, would require bail agents to refund 95% of the amount collected from the depositor if, 1) An action or proceeding against an arrestee is dismissed, 2) No charges are filed within 60 days of…
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Defunding the Police – A Return to the Wild Wild West

By Michael J. Whitlock June 5, 2020 Even prior to the tragic death of George Floyd while in police custody a was a movement to end the use of cash bail, probation, parole and close jails and prisons. In fact, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms moth-balled the Atlanta City jail in 2019. “We have taken another critical step forward in the march for criminal justice reform…”. There is a movement now to defund the police. It was reported June 3, 2020, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Officials were cutting as much as $150 Million from the LAPD budget. Members of the Minneapolis City Council are seeking to disband that city’s police department. Councilmember Steve Fletcher tweeted, “Several of us on the council are working on finding out what it would take to disband…
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ABAC Conference Worth Your Time to Attend

By Michael J. Whitlock June 23, 2020 The American Bail Agent Coalition (ABAC) is an extension of the American Bail Coalition (ABC). It brings agents and surety company representatives together for a common cause. ABAC will be holdings its 5th conference this week which will be held virtually (online) due to COVID-19. I get calls and texts almost everyday from bail agents across the country, many do not even write for American Surety Company, asking about the fate of the bail industry in the United States. Do we have a future? Should we look for other work? What’s going to happen with California and No on Prop 25? So, we when I see the registration numbers for the upcoming ABAC Virtual Conference, I’m shocked at how anemic are the numbers. Rarely does a day go by…
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Victory! Prop 25 prevails as Californians vote to preserve the right to bail

By Michael J. Whitlock November 5, 2020 It’s been a long hard slog these past two years as the bail industry worked to overturn SB10, enacted legislation that if put into effect, would have eliminated the use of bail in California. That effort was rewarded on Election Day when more than 6 million Californians voted no on Prop 25, the referendum to overturn SB10. Californians for Safer Communities was the engine behind Prop 25. All in, more than 10 million dollars was spent by the bail industry to preserve the right to bail in California. That seems like and is a lot of money but well short of the war chest held by those in favor of Prop 25. Ultimately, it was the people who were the real currency in this fight. They rejected the…
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Efforts to Pass Bail Reform Legislation Persists

Michael J. Whitlock May 26, 2021 Another year and another slate of legislative measures attempting to reduce or eliminate the constitutional right to bail in lieu of either releasing offenders with no conditions for appearance or detaining them without bail. California, Delaware, Nevada and now Ohio have pending bills aimed at making it easier on criminal offenders. SB 182 was heard in the Ohio State Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday (click here to watch). The arguments made by the bill sponsors left me agog. SB 182 is a whopping 268 pages long. The sections pertaining to bail include the right to affordable bail, denies judicial discretion in setting bail and pushes for issuing a citation in lieu of arrest for most misdemeanor and several felony offenses. There seems to be little consideration or recognition of…
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