Bill Carmichael addresses ISBAA members. Seated left is Bob Dawson and Lee Sexton.
The Indiana Surety Bail Agents Association held their annual meeting yesterday in Indianapolis. ASC President & CEO Bill Carmichael broke down the recent Indiana Supreme Court addition of Indiana Criminal Rule 26. Criminal Rule 26 suggests a recommendation to judges they release defendants on their own recognizance if they are not deemed to be a risk to public safety or a risk of flight. This is the same discretion Indiana judges have always possessed. Criminal Rule 26 also requires the court to obtain a signed guarantee from defendants who deposit cash equal to less than the full amount of bail. Perhaps this is more symbolic than anything because it’s hard to collect from a fugitive. Click here to read Criminal Rule 26 in its entirety.
ISBAA President Lee Sexton asked me teach an hour of continuing education after the scheduled speaker cancelled at the last minute. While I feigned resistance, claiming I was not prepared, it was more like asking Briar Rabbit to jump into the briar patch, I was happy to help. I love talking about bail and sharing what is happening around the country and reminding bail agents of the good work they are doing and that while our profession is under constant attack we have the will and fortitude to prevail.
Attorney Dean Knapp informed us Indianapolis has more than 75,000 outstanding warrants for failure to appear with seemingly no effort being made by law enforcement to apprehend these fugitives. The majority of these fugitives were released on small cash bonds. Another concerns is the city’s more than 400 public defenders representing eight out of ten criminal defendants. Not only is this a huge cost to taxpayers it has put a real hurting on criminal attorneys. Indianapolis earns its share from criminal justice raking in $22 million in traffic fines last year and that’s just from one court.
The underlying theme of Mr. Knapp’s talk was Indianapolis, like many other cities, generates huge amounts of money on criminal defendants from collect calls, jail commissaries, ankle monitoring, ignition interlock devise, classes, fines, cash bail, etc. And to think some groups complain about the cost of a bail bond, the one component of the criminal justice system that provides a financial guarantee of a defendant’s appearance for trial.
Next week I will be attending the California agents meeting in South Lake Tahoe where I’m certain the Welchan v. Harris case will be discussed. From there I head to San Antonio for the Texas meeting where they anticipate a huge fight in the state legislature. There is a big push in the Lone Star state to expand taxpayer funded pretrial release programs. Both of these meetings are always well attended and informative. I hope to see you there.