Monday, September 28, 2009

Elected officials' guide to jail population management

Via Bob Cushman, here's a new publication from the National Institute of Corrections, prepared in cooperation with the National Association of Counties, to help counties better cope with jail overcowoding through more aggressive use of pretrial services:
There are more than a few counties in the state that could stand for their leaders to read and implement the jail-population reduction strategies described in this short manual. Most population growth in Texas jails since 2000 has been the result of expanded pretrial detention, not more crimes being committed. I may have more to say about this document after I've had a chance to give it a read, but for now I wanted to get the link out there.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Grits, Grits, and more Grits!

Scott this is really difficult for me because I admire your blog and agree with so many of your opinions, most in fact. However, the answer is not, nor has it ever been, Pre-Trial Government (Free Bonds).

The Government always creates more problems than they solve; they have their own agenda, and their agenda is always the same; tax more and spend more. Politicians live in their own reality and could care less about doing the right thing. So, as long as they can continue to snow intelligent folks like you we will continue to remain in this quagmire of trying to find the forest, and they will continue to get away with taking complete advantage of taxpayers.

Criminal defendants are not likely to appear in court if given carte blanche, the current failure to appear ratios of Private bail VS Government Bail are 19% private bail 30% Government Bail, keeping in mind that private bail is responsible for a much riskier defendant, and many more than pre-trial. Too many of those released on Government Bail either abscond all together or remain fugitives for long periods of time, while those released by Private Bail are returned to custody very quickly and very few are successful absconders.

The problem with the most recent studies, if there are any, are that the Government Pre-Trial Agency has gotten much better at disguising their true numbers over the years.

The best study I have ever seen, done in 2002, was a collaboration of several well known Universities, The American Economics Association, and a handful of smart folks; then put into publication by the University of Chicago.

I would bet real money that you are very well aware of the study.

In this wonderful piece of eye opening literature, where information gathered from the State Court Processing Statistics (SCPS) program of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics was used to develop all kinds of ratios, charts, and diagrams derived from data representing 1,320,000.00 filings in the nation it was discovered that several things occur with regards to the different ways in which criminal defendants are released from custody pre-trial.

It was discovered that the ratios of failure to appear compared to private bail were 18% higher for cash bonds, 33% higher for percentage deposits to the court, and 50% for pre-trial release bonds.

It was further discovered that when defendants were released because of emergency or court ordered release because of jail overcrowding that 45% of those criminal defendants fail to appear, a staggering number compared to all the above.

The fugitive ratio for private bail was 53% lower than pre-trial release, 47% lower than deposits to the court, and 67% lower than cash bonds. In graph illustration it really looks wild.

The only thing that has changed since this study is the fact that pre-trial has grown tremendously on the backs of the tax payers, and so coincidently crime has grown too. There is a direct correlation to this anomaly that (the government wants us to believe is a good thing), and rising crime.

The solution is so blatantly simple that unfortunately for the government and all those who are so gung ho to plunder our pockets for the sake of bureaucracy; some day we will in fact eventually figure out that it really doesn’t take millions of freshly printed dollars to study the problem, because if we just (LOWER THE BONDS), the problem is fixed without spending a quarter.

Also determined is that the overall cost to tax payers for the inefficiencies of government free bonds is also staggering and we are also paying staggering amounts of money to be blessed with it, something you disagree with, but Scott, (Scott), it is what it is.

Just say no Scott, and start pointing fingers where they belong at the war on drugs.

There, I feel better now.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

1:29, Pretrial services is mainly an assessment process, for starters, it dosn't necessarily imply defendants get "Pre-Trial Government (Free Bonds)," at least not for everyone. And BTW, you'd lose your "real money" because I've only heard of the Chicago study when you've raised it here in comment strings past.

One strong point the NAC makes is that appearance rates have not increased over the period when use of pretrial detention expanded - an empirical result that seems to contradict the Chicago study. Requiring bail more often didn't, in fact, cause more people to show up in aggregate. Court appearances remained in the 76-79% range over time despite expanded pretrial detention.

For some categories of defendants, no-show rates are as high as 50%. For other categories, as low as 3%. And if you can make those distinctions, it's MUCH cheaper for taxpayers to forego bail than holding them in jail just so the bail bondsmen can make a profit.

Every other country in the world except the Philippines operates without a commercial bail system, the sky won't fall if we stop relying on ours so heavily. Even when cash bonds are a good idea, it's still frequently problematic to privatize the function.

Finally, when commenting on this you should probably let folks know that you work in the bail bond industry since it very much colors your views.

Pirate Rothbard said...

The Government always creates more problems than they solve; they have their own agenda, and their agenda is always the same; tax more and spend more.

Agreed. But lowering the bail means spending less on the jails... So if you're against that, then it sounds like you're for bigger government.

Anonymous said...

I suppose failure to appear is a crime so every time someone is released and doesn't show up for trial, another crime goes into the statistics book.

Doesn't the Government understand that pretrial release creates more crime. Don't they want more crime so they can justify higher budgets?

The whole thing is a giant cesspool of numbers. The prize goes to the guy that do the best job of manipulating the numbers.

Public safety is simply not a concern. Pity!

Pirate Rothbard said...

Public safety is simply not a concern. Pity!

You can waive the bloodyshirt all day long. Hey, you could eliminate all street crime by puting everyone in prison, doesn't make it a good idea.

Your point is well taken about the potential for failure to appear to create a new crime. We need more fundemental reform, as in arresting fewer people to begin with.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

10:57, this isn't a theoretical exercise, just look at Houston - when the jail is completely full, they're paying millions to house prisoners in Louisiana and Texarkana, and voters refused to approve building more jail space, what is your suggestion to solve it all? Figuring out how to reduce pretrial detention - either through bail reductions or personal bonds - is basically all that's left, at least for those who don't live in some tuff-on-crime fantasyland where "public safety" is free and jail space is infinite. If there's another viable option (e.g., raise taxes to build and staff more jail space), say what it is.

Anonymous said...

For Grits, whom this bail bondsman thinks should get a Nobel Prize for free thinking, and that is meant as a compliment BTW; your statement is still shadowed or jaded if you will by several factors.

As I have mentioned in the past the government loves to play shell games with statistics, just ask oh (anyone).

The main reason I like the study I refer to is because in their efforts to put me out of business many years ago they failed to cover their tracks properly, an oversight they quickly remedied by showing appearance ratios that had little to do with the only appearance that mattered, (the last one); and I promise you very little if any has changed.

Consequently when it comes time to put their hand out for more and more tax payer’s dollars; counting every appearance looks pretty good on paper when they’re asking Commissioners Court for more; gosh it would be nice if all I had to do was get them to court a couple of times and not be held responsible when they failed to appear at the last court hearing. I would be on a beach, someplace far away from here, (it would just be too much crime for me to deal with), plus I could afford it.

This is systematic nationwide. Pretrial release statistics do not reflect true failure to appear ratios when the bond is revoked by the court and not forfeited, and so, on paper the failure to appear doesn’t exist, a warrant was issued and that’s all that is important; Right? Of course it’s understandable why a judge might do this sort of thing since there’s no one to go after for the money anyway.

Furthermore, you dance around the whole responsibility issue, yes criminal defendants fail to appear, the question is however; who is successful at bringing them back to justice?

This very long exhaustive study concludes that police do not have the manpower nor is there any incentive to be relentless in effort to recapture the fugitive. Insinuating, no forgive me, in so many words they are stating, that government once again fails in accomplishment; in being able to perform even marginally well, even if given the opportunity to fudge on statistics, by the most basic interpretation of bail they stink.

The best thing about this study is that in plain English the last statement they make is, and I quote, “These finding indicate that bond dealers and bail enforcement agents (bounty hunters) are effective at discouraging flight and at recapturing defendants. Bounty hunters, not public police, appear to be the true long arms of the law.”

You also fail to show or give commentary on the massive cost to operate a government agency that has been a failure from the beginning; along with the ridiculously huge resulting cost factor of their failure. Your argument instead is that bail bondsman cost the accused, and so, my only assumption is that Grits feels somehow obligated to spring for his bail. While being very noble on your part, I must once again ask, “Who’s robbing this train Jesse?”

Anonymous said...

To answer 07:34:00 AM, I’m not sure if your question was presented correctly, however I will answer it to the best of my ability.

If the bonds are lowered, at least the families can afford bail, and what is much more important is that it makes no difference to a bail bondsman if the bond is $500.00 or $50,000.00; we do not care to be in the money handling business; just like your neighborhood barber shop we enjoy being in the money making business; and I promise lowering the bonds will not affect my ability to do good hair.

As for less prisons equating to more government, I am completely baffled by you assessment.

Police, Prosecutors, Probation Officers, Parole Officers, and Prison are not only the epitome of big government; they are the number one driving force of government spending on the home front.

Once again I say to Grits, start pointing your finger at the war on drugs; which, BTW would put a huge hole in the government pocketbook, and go along way towards sending me to the showers. But that doesn’t make it right! I would rather sell pencils in front of the court house than see this travesty of justice continue.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

Have you ever thought of doing a study to see how much it costs the 254 sheriff's of Texas in the way on transport costs (mileage, fuel, food, hotels, etc.) for those defendants who fail to appear for trial or docket call, pre trial release vs. released on bail?

I sort of like the idea of pre-trial release or release on own recognizance, but with certain condition:

1. Defendant must be gainfully employed;
2. Must reside in the county of arrest;
3. Arrest is not for a violent felony offense;
3. No violent felony convictions; and
4. No history of FTA or bond forfeiture.

Regarding the requirement to live in the county of arrest, a waiver could apply if all of the other conditions are met.

I don't like bail bond board counties because they eliminate mom and dad, grandma and grandad who have lived in the county all of their lives and have property sufficient to make the bond
from posting the bond for their relative; normally a child or grandchild.

Just the thoughts of a retired chief deputy sheriff.

Anonymous said...

"Police, Prosecutors, Probation Officers, Parole Officers, and Prison are not only the epitome of big government; they are the number one driving force of government spending on the home front."

Well, I suppose we could do away with all of these government workers if people agree to behave and not commit crimes:)

Besides legalizing drugs, what's your remedy?

Anonymous said...

"The best thing about this study is that in plain English the last statement they make is, and I quote, “These finding indicate that bond dealers and bail enforcement agents (bounty hunters) are effective at discouraging flight and at recapturing defendants. Bounty hunters, not public police, appear to be the true long arms of the law.”


Well, you should be. Law enforcement was not designed to be your bill collector.

Another thing, how do you justify posting lets say a $1000 bail for a defendant who is accused of writing a $50-100 bad check. Don't you think your percentage fee of 10-15% would be better spent by the defedant in making restitution to the victim?

Pirate Rothbard said...

Besides legalizing drugs, what's your remedy

Armed citizens.

Anonymous said...

In response to 09:29:2009

You miss the point, collecting the bills is what we do, and what government free bail that cost taxpayers millions of dollars, [locally], can not do without the police. So in effect it cost money [taxes] to put them in, money [taxes] to let them out, and more money [taxes] to go and find them again, except they don’t, so the taxpayer gets to pay indirectly for the crime, and the rising crime at the pump.

Anonymous said...

To answer the bad check question:

Most bad checks were filed with the Justice of the Peace Courts for years , the bond was typically set at two hundred. More recently, at least in Harris County more and more bad check cases are filed with the District Attorney’s Office, in part if not in whole because merchants who file their bad checks with the Justice of the Peace Courts have discovered that when these folks do get arrested and taken to jail they are released immediately for time served if they plead guilty, no punishment, or are given an immediate pretrial release, where, as usual most fail to appear again. At the next level, in the County Courts, judges typically set these bonds at $500.00; quite a few have been set at $100.00. If the bond is set higher it is because the bond is enhanced because of prior criminal record.

My opinion is that if you are going to write a bad check, and refuse to take care of it, then you have placed yourself in jeopardy, you have stolen from an honest merchant, and you should be required to go to jail at least long enough to consider if it’s a place you like; post a bond, so that someone is guaranteeing that you will appear, and then make restitution so that the merchant isn’t left holding the bag, and the defendant doesn’t think writing bad checks is pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

In response to 03:08:00

I think that the legalization of drugs would eliminate the crime and corruption that goes along with it; it would go a long way toward eliminating that same element on our borders and open up enough resources to turn the empty prisons into, free hospitals and free education facilities for all, funded by the money we waste on the WOD. It wouldn’t hurt much if we started drilling our own oil and used those resources to back our dollar, pay off China, and designate real money to come up with alternative energy. As for the druggies, at least we will know who they are and where they can be found down at the legal drug emporium next to the [legal bar] where the other partiers are. It is the largest black market in the history of mankind and we are supporting it. I ask you, “Who’s robbing this train Jesse?”

So you ask, “Besides that what is my remedy?” Honestly I think that would just about do it.

Along with all those government P’s, oh and I left out Pretrial Release; I too will have to go and find work, or maybe a second job, darn the luck; crime is way down and my children are safe to walk the streets.

I think if we all voted a straight ticket every election, for the opposite party, rotating each election, so that our life long politicians can understand that we are tired of this crap, and they don’t deserve the job, then within the next decade we might get some honest work out of them.

Anyway last night I dreamed I ate a huge marshmallow; I woke up this morning and my pillow was gone. That’s the reality of common sense thinking entering the realm.

Anonymous said...

For you who want to legalize drugs, do you want the government to run it? If not. how do you proose it be managed?

And how will the drug users, a lot of them who don't work or ain't going to work or won't be able to work, pay for the legalized drugs?

How will unemployed drug users purchase them? Rob, steal, burgle, forge or are taxpayers going to fund their availability, purchase and use?

Just asking.

Anonymous said...

The interesting points you bring up are certainly some of the ways they are obtained illegally now.

The price will drop and they can afford them the same as those who can afford their alcohol.

As for the robbers and thieves and forgers at least we will have a place to put them without everyone screaming about the jail being overcrowded.

For those who wish to purchase drugs and alcohol, a tax, yes a tax just like any other commodity purchased will help fund the underprivileged druggies.

For the untold billions upon billion saved who knows maybe even a few drug treatment centers for those than want it.

Pirate Rothbard said...

06:31:00, I like a lot of what you say, but we don't need to support underprivileged druggies. Inevitably, you create more junkies by subsidizing them. It makes more sense to just punish junkies who steal.

However, let the middle class and rich users do their thing if they don't hurt anyone.

Anonymous said...

Funny, the problem here as I see it, is that the underprivileged fall into thievery, [not] because of drug use but because of being underprivileged.

The fact that the war on drugs continues to facilitate the largest black market in the history of mankind enables the underprivileged to cultivate from it. The perception is not that it is illegal but that it is a very good means to a financial end.

Drug usage itself is the by- product by simply being made visible and available, and by process of osmosis is embedded into the culture of the poor from very early on in life.

The wealthy; the middle class; and the poor; all indulge in mind altering substances; the poor however have real life issues that promulgate a more intense desire to escape; to give in; and to give up. Mind altering substances lend credence to criminal behavior, in every way imaginable.

The things that should be addressed instead of a war on drugs, that was in its conception, (long before it was given a title), based on political and economic bias, for the personal gain of the corrupt wealthy, are those things that promote positive results in society as a whole, mainly free education for all, without exception, and with as many safety nets in place as are needed to catch every failure, every time, so that over time, education becomes the answer to poverty, and [not] thievery, drugs, alcohol, and violence. Free education for anyone at any age should be available, and tax credits should be given to anyone who holds a job and wishes to utilize education as a means to improve their life.

Being poor shouldn’t be the gateway to illegal activity in the United States, it should be an opportunity to change your economic status for any who choose to take advantage of it.

Welfare shouldn’t be accessible to anyone with the exception of health related issues, unless it is accompanied by education, then all of these pretrial release employees can change hats and become social workers who monitor the history and failure to appear ratios of those who care not to become employable through education and employment development programs, providing as many education choices as necessary until they find a round peg for a round hole. There should be time limitations; transportation and child care should be made available, social workers who work in the field should be in abundance so that fraud can be assessed and punished. We have and are already spending tax dollars for all of this; unfortunately it is being spent on the war on drugs.

Anonymous said...

Ah legalization yes. A bootlegger's dream come true.

Pirate Rothbard said...

There are worse things than being a bootlegger.

Could live on welfare.

Or you could live off other people's taxes...like the police do.

Anonymous said...

Funny, the problem here as I see it, is that the underprivileged fall into thievery, [not] because of drug use but because of being underprivileged.

The fact that the war on drugs continues to facilitate the largest black market in the history of mankind enables the underprivileged to cultivate from it. The perception is not that it is illegal but that it is a very good means to a financial end.

Drug usage itself is the by- product by simply being made visible and available, and by process of osmosis is embedded into the culture of the poor from very early on in life.

The wealthy; the middle class; and the poor; all indulge in mind altering substances; the poor however have real life issues that promulgate a more intense desire to escape; to give in; and to give up. Mind altering substances lend credence to criminal behavior, in every way imaginable.

The things that should be addressed instead of a war on drugs, that was in its conception, (long before it was given a title), based on political and economic bias, for the personal gain of the corrupt wealthy, are those things that promote positive results in society as a whole, mainly free education for all, without exception, and with as many safety nets in place as are needed to catch every failure, every time, so that over time, education becomes the answer to poverty, and [not] thievery, drugs, alcohol, and violence. Free education for anyone at any age should be available, and tax credits should be given to anyone who holds a job and wishes to utilize education as a means to improve their life.

The problems that politicians are faced with are not those of making real decisions based on how they may affect society in a positive way, but how they may continue to effect government in a positive way, and still address issues in ways that appear to be positive to society. It’s a constant shell game, a diversion.

The prospect of cleaning house, and removing all of their well placed bureaucracies, that have been put into place solely because they have been able to successfully push their propaganda based laws down the throats of tax payers for so long now that it has become a matter of their own existence, places them in a position of working themselves out of a well paid brotherhood of bureaucratic positions. How will they ever be able to explain to the brother and sisterhood, of the elite government hierarchy which encompasses anyone who draws a paycheck from taxpayers, that their services will no longer be needed?

Being poor shouldn’t be the gateway to illegal activity in the United States, it should be an opportunity to change your economic status for any who choose to take advantage of it.

Welfare shouldn’t be accessible to anyone with the exception of health related issues, unless it is accompanied by education, then all of these pretrial release employees can change hats and become social workers who monitor the history and failure to appear ratios of those who care not to become employable through education and employment development programs, providing as many education choices as necessary until they find a round peg for a round hole. There should be time limitations; transportation and child care should be made available, social workers who work in the field should be in abundance so that fraud can be assessed and punished. We have and are already spending tax dollars for all of this; unfortunately it is being spent on the war on drugs.

Anonymous said...

I’m quite ok with paying for police, especially when I need one, and legalization would I think be the bootleggers nightmare.

Pirate Rothbard said...

11:58:00, you are really behind the times with your term bootlegger, come up with something else like "hustler" or something cool.

It doesn't shock me that you can't imagine life without your wonderful government to manage your life and keep you from doing wrong. Isn't that what we're taught to believe from a young age?

Anonymous said...

We still have bootleggers in my part of the state, you know making "shine." :) At least that's what I'm told.

"Or you could live off other people's taxes...like the police do."

Yes and not to mention firemen, sanitation workers, street and road repairmen, water utility workers, ems personnel and just average run of the mill city and county government workers.

It doesn't shock me that you can't imagine life without your wonderful government to manage your life and keep you from doing wrong. Isn't that what we're taught to believe from a young age?

I was taught to depend on God, how about you? By the way, I'm an Independent and can think for myself. I don't depend on the "parties" to take care of my lots in life. How about you? I can also live within my means and keep a balanced checkbook. My income does not exceed my outgo for if I didn't my outgo would be my downfall, just like it's is with government. You know, that's a pretty basic concept that the "parties" and many Americans can't seem to comprehend. How about you?

Pirate Rothbard said...

I was taught to depend on God, how about you?

I was taught this was a myth, but it's cool if you believe in it.

By the way, I'm an Independent and can think for myself. I don't depend on the "parties" to take care of my lots in life. How about you? I can also live within my means and keep a balanced checkbook...How about you?

I can do all that..even with a wife who nags constantly about things she wants to buy!
But then again I am an accountant, so I have an unfair advantage.

Anonymous said...

What is a Pirate Rothbard and what does Anarcho-Capitalism Solution mean?

Are you going to be making any posts on your blog?

Anonymous said...

I’m not sure who you were referring to, but I use the term bootlegger because another blogger seemed to think that [somehow] drug dealers would benefit from legalization.

My reference to bootleggers, or hustlers if you prefer, would be those that support the drug dealer’s efforts and then prosecute the same people they support, a stacked deck I would think.

Who really cares what party affiliations one may or may not support, when it boils down to the same thing, left, right, or in the middle, a hoax is a hoax, and so far, all of them seem to support the same things, (themselves).

The subject of police is a mute point, accept for (bad apples), which includes the butcher and the baker as well as a few accountants, (possibly); it’s just a tiny bit ridiculous to say that society can live without them, or to penalize them all for being paid; or to associate them, (the police), with the 436 people in Washington that control 300 million American citizens including the police who must follow the marching orders they are given.

The religious debate on the other hand, and to move completely away from the subject, always seems to turn to finger pointing, “the fields are white already”, I would have been so fine with “I depend on God”, without the “how about you”, or God said it and I believe it, when (God said it), is more than sufficient. Hypocritical as it may seem for me to criticize, the problem so many have with Christians is our innate ability as believers of the fall to be hypocrites; I suppose we are, after all, human, and fall short of his glory in so many ways, (please forgive me).

Anyway, Scott you are wrong about Pretrial; government involvement never seems to lead to the answer because once they get the ball, they never want to share it with anyone, not the indigent; not the mentally ill; nor anyone else, they are ball hogs.

While you seem so adamant about other countries being able to govern without a system of bail, you still fail to show how the government performs better. The most extensive, (unbiased), [and I stress the word] study available shows that private bail performs so much better than, cash bond, percentage bond, emergency release, or government free bond, in that, by far, more defendants appear for the final curtain call, which no matter how you slice it, this is the objective, I would think that lowering the bonds and allowing responsibility to play its part would be the only logical approach, and I just can’t resist, (how about you?)

Your friendly neighborhood bondsman, Anonymous

PS: there now, if there was any question at all about my totally biased opinion, it is obvious now. (happy)

Anonymous said...

I wonder what these indigent Government bond offenders are paying per day for GPS/ELECTRONIC Monitoring? At $10 per day for GPS/Electronic monitoring it is probably cheaper to pay a private bail bondsman.
I've often wondered how government bond supervision can supervise an offender on GPS for months, even years without the offender getting credit for time served. Under statute, an offender released on GPS out of an overcrowded jail is credited time the same as if he/she were in jail. How does Government government bond supervision get around that?