Chicago Venue Not Acceptable to Some PBUS Members

Each year the PBUS Board of Directors has the undeniable challenge of selecting a venue for their Mid-Year meeting (the PBUS winter conference is always in Las Vegas) that will be both accommodating for meetings and attractive to attendees who want something interesting to do in their free time. All this to entice bail agents into spending a few days of their valuable summer months attending a conference.

Past summer conference locales include West Palm Beach, Seattle, San Antonio and San Diego. With so many great locations to choose from, why select a city in a state that has not allowed commercial bail bonds for more than forty years?
As a travel destination Chicago offers a plethora of things to hold one’s attention. Downtown is clean and safe. You can take in an afternoon Cubs or White Sox game, visit one of the many museums, ride the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier or take the architectural boat tour through the river that runs through downtown.   The City of Chicago itself should not be a turnoff to anyone who wants to mix tourist activities with a business conference.
On the other side of the coin, there are those PBUS members who cannot bring themselves to contribute to the economy of a state that has outlawed their profession.    Illinois outlawed bail and private sector fugitive recovery in the sixties. They currently utilize a system of deposit bail, OR release and pretrial services.
PBUS invited Senator Mike Jacobs to speak at the conference. Senator Jacobs is a good friend of Brad Williams of Williams National Surety and has a good understanding of how commercial bail works and the accountability it offers that government programs do not. Senator Jacobs said “…surety bail is the single most effective means of pretrial release”. He went on to say he would be willing to introduce legislation that would reinstate commercial bail in Illinois.
Senator Jacobs’ offer to introduce legislation which would reinstate commercial bail in Illinois cannot be ignored. As has been reported here, efforts have been underway for more than two years to reinstate commercial bail to Oregon, another deposit bail state. Billion dollar budget shortfalls in both of Oregon and Illinois have opened the door for the private sector to offer services and guarantees in areas these states have controlled for decades. Restoring the right to write commercial bail bonds in the non-bail states would be a victory for all bail agents. Accomplishing this in Illinois would certainly make Chicago my kind of town.
Other Happenings at PBUS – Chicago
The Americans for the Preservation of Bail (APOB) was a topic in many conversations and a few meetings this past week in Chicago. This new association has many bail agents and surety representatives guessing as to APOB’s motivation and overall agenda and what impact their efforts will have on the bail bond industry (click on “comments” at the top of this post to share your thoughts on APOB). 
At the Council of President’s meeting Jeff Kirkpatrick of Michigan reported, his state’s association will push the Citizens’ Right to Know bill in the next legislative session. Jeff also reported Michigan bail agents are writing about 35% more bail since Michigan began allowing writing a surety bond equal to 25% of the face amount of a 10% deposit bond. 
Washington State is considering a move to no credit bonding in the wake of shooting deaths of several policemen last year by a defendant released on a bail bond. Apparently, the bonding company, who was cleared by the Department of Insurance of any wrong doing, did not collect the full premium prior to posting the bond. This will be a major topic of discussion at the next meeting of the WSBAA in September.
PBUS will celebrate its 30th Anniversary at the 2011 Winter Conference in Las Vegas next February. The 2011 Mid-Year Conference is expected to return to central Florida in the summer of next year.
I encourage all bail agents to become a member of PBUS and participate in the commercial bail industry’s only national agent association. Interacting with bail agents from around the country and attending educational seminars at PBUS meetings can only benefit you and improve the chances of success of your agency.
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