Las Vegas, NV – I’ve just returned from my annual February trip to Las Vegas to attend the PBUS Winter Conference. I’ve been present for this annual meeting of bail agents nearly every winter since 1986. This trip can be exhausting though I do enjoy seeing familiar people I have gotten to know while attending this event through the years.
I have a special affinity for PBUS. My father Jack was a founding member. I have fond memories attending PBUS meetings with him in the late eighties when the conference was held at the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas. I was learning from the master.
PBUS is a place where bail agents and surety representatives from around the country converge on Las Vegas for a few days to discuss issues impacting the commercial bail industry. There is always a little drama mixed in with the networking and seminars. This year was tame compared to years passed which was a welcome relief, it was all business.
Attending CBA classes at PBUS meetings and instructing those classes has been a way of giving back to the profession. It’s imperative we continue to help one another with training and education as laws and regulations are changing every day.
The networking that takes place at PBUS can be helpful in those instances where a bail agent may need help with a client or tracking a fugitive outside their jurisdiction because fugitives will try to hide anywhere in the United States and internationally. Having contacts across the country can greatly impact whether or not efforts to locate a fugitive are successful.
I was invited to speak at the Opening Luncheon for the conference. My remarks centered around how valuable bail agents are to an efficient criminal justice system. They are indispensable as the process comes to a screeching halt whenever a defendant fails to appear for court. Nobody is more impacted and frustrated by this occurrence than the crime victim. For prosecutors and judges it’s just one of many cases they deal with, but for a victim the issues is singular in nature. A defendant failing to appear not only stops the process but increases the anxiety of the victim creating fear and vulnerability, particular in cases of domestic violence or aggravated assault. Bail agents carry a heavy burden each time they post bond for a criminal defendant, the pressure is on to get their client to court, every time.
I also recounted my early years working in retail bail and how that experience has continued to provide perspective during my years working on the corporate surety end of the business. Nothing gets me more excited than speaking to a room full of hardworking bail agents. There is no more underappreciated stakeholder working within the criminal justice system than the bail agent. Bail agents must work harder, be more professional and turn in a higher rate of performance than the other guy if they are to earn respect. It’s not fair but it’s the reality. It’s about crime, it’s about arrests and it’s about appearance which means it’s all about the bail.