Hilton Head, SC – GAPB usually holds its spring meeting on St.SimonsIsland in Southeastern Georgia. This year they opted to go across state lines to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and the Westin Hotel. The turnout was respectable though I expected more bondsmen to be present in light of the recent enactment of House Bill 889.
Speaking of HB 889, Scott Hall, GAPB Legislative Chair, gave an extensive overview of the efforts which led to the successful passing of this pivotal piece of legislation. Scott went into detail on how HB 889 will benefit all bondsmen operating in Georgia. The language of HB 889 leaves nothing to the imagination, if an offender is arrested for a felony offense of anything from DUI to trafficking in cocaine they will be required to post a bail bond. Only an elected magistrate has the authority to deviate from the bail restrictions and release a defendant on his or her own recognizance. In doing so the magistrate must list the reasons for this exceptional release, for the record.
Much like the chewy center of a lollypop this bill had a hidden surprise. While the language found in HB 889 specifically references that offenders charged with a felony offense shall not be released through an ROR, pretrial release, diversion programs or pretrial intervention, it also includes 10% deposit bail through the reference of Uniform Superior Court Rule 27.
FultonCounty jail pretrial, only about one third were required to post a bail bond.
While the purpose of bail bond insurance is to insure a defendant’s appearance in court there is a financial penalty if a bail bondsman is unable to perform which serves as an incentive to complete the task. Pretrial release and deposit bail are not subject to similar penalties or accountability. With a, produce the defendant or pay the bond, environment, commercial bail is the only best option for reducing jail crowding, outstanding warrants and costs to taxpayers.
I was asked to speak by GAPB President Jarrod Skelton on bail related issues impacting the bail industry nationally. Members seemed to be very interested in ongoing efforts to legislatively reinstate commercial bail to the State of Oregon. The issue of credit card bail kiosks popping up all over the country was also a hot topic. Owners of these credit card kiosks are operating as bail agents by allowing defendants to access cash on their credit card, for a fee, for the purposes of posting a full cash or percentage bond.
We also discussed efforts to pass post conviction bond legislation. Post conviction bonds are designed to be an added condition on prisoners being granted early release. In the event a parolee violates their parole the bondsmen is responsible to have the parolee in court to answer to the violation or risk a bond forfeiture.
Post conviction bond legislation was enacted in South Dakota earlier this year and the California agents association is working diligently to get the same result in their state which is currently experiencing major prison overcrowding and budget problems.
GAPB to Dispatch Emissaries to Texas
During a membership meeting discussion on how to encourage more Georgia bondsmen to participate in the association I suggested GAPB send emissaries to other state association meetings to see what could be learned. While they considered California, North Carolina and Oklahoma they settled on paying registration fees for up to five GAPB members who would like to attend the Annual Meeting of the Professional Bondsmen of Texas being held at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio this October.
While some GAPB members will be attending the PBT meeting in October, some PBT members may want to return the favor and attend GAPB’s annual meeting in Savannah. That event will be held at Hyatt November 16 – 18 and also has a great turnout in a fantastic setting.
The 21st Annual Steven G. Whitlock Memorial Golf Tournament will be held August 4, 2010 at the Woodhaven Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas in conjunction with the 3rd Quarter Meeting of the Professional Bondsmen of Texas. All are welcome to attend or contribute to our efforts to raise money for kids battling cancer to attend CampEsperanza.
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PBT always has a great turnout at the year-ending meeting. There will be much to gain by interacting with Texas bondsmen. In turn, I’m sure PBT members would be very interested to hear about GAPB’s recent legislative successes and achievements.
County government will most certainly see an increase of revenue through the payment of bond forfeitures where a bondsman was unable to perform. Taxpayers will certainly see a reduction in their tax dollars going to provide free bail to criminal defendants.
While Georgia bondsmen will benefit from this new legislation, citizens and local governments will also benefit through a reduction in crime and outstanding failure to appear warrants due to more defendants being released from jail on a secured bail bond.