The defeat of Proposition 102 in November was asetback to the advancement of commercial bail in Colorado. Prop.102 would have limited the use of free release to first time offenders and created a safer environment for Coloradans while increasing the use of secured bail bonds. Bail bond agents and sureties doing business in the Rocky Mountain state will now work to find a way forward.
I was travelling in Colorado last week, this time with a travel buddy, Gary Logue. Gary is Assistant Vice President for American Surety Company, in charge of Underwriting. He’s been with the company for 20 years and is a valuable asset.
Our objective for this trip was to meet with every ASC agent, review their client files and make sure they were in compliance with the statutes. Anything less will get you a fine in Colorado.
In speaking with each agent there was palpable concern with what the fallout will be with the defeat of Prop. 102. Add in the sunset provision of the bail regulations coming up in 2012 and it was enough to give one pause.
Many bail agents who were in favor of passing Prop. 102 were not necessarily in agreement with the strategy employed in that process. The bail industry nationwide has always taken an approach of education and cooperation, building relationships and working closely with state legislators to facilitate the passing of bail friendly legislation. The effort behind 102 seemed to have been a “no holds barred” approach where the means would justify the end result. The end result was the measure failed and many public officials were left wondering what to think of bail agents in Colorado.
As for the renewal of the bail regulations in 2012, this should not be taken lightly though it is unlikely commercial bail will not continue in Colorado. Commercial bail provides a vital service to every community ensuring criminal defendants appear in court. The state also generates revenue from unresolved forfeitures.
New Colorado Association
While Gary and I were in Colorado we learned of a meeting being held by a recently formed bail agent association, the Rocky Mountain Bail Agents. The meeting was held at the Ramada Inn in Thornton, just north of Denver, Thursday, December 2nd.
There was a somewhat surprising turnout of sixty agents and surety company representatives at this meeting. One bail bond agent could not recall seeing this many agents in one setting. Historically, Colorado has had a difficult time keeping a viable association active.
I was asked to say a few words in support of the effort to start the new agent association. Speaking from the heart, I asked those in attendance to support any effort that would improve the circumstances in their state. Putting aside competitive differences and working together in a professional manner was the key to ensuring a successful outcome.
Colorado agents are right to be concerned about the future of commercial bail in their state. Sitting on their hands could guarantee their fate; apathy can be corrosive. However, active participation and financial contributions to lobbying efforts is the best remedy for success. I’ll be on bail agents every time to get the job done.