Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Bail bondsmen fear losing business: Plan bitter fight vs. bail bill, litigation

We see here that bail bondsmen are gearing up to fight the Whitmire/Murr bail reform bill filed this week as well as to counter bail litigation in Houston.

At the Lege, the bail industry's arguments are all about the important services they provide and how much they contribute to public safety. Among themselves, though, their vested interests are more explicit. From a "P.S." to a fundraising request: "Please understand that you, your family and your employees are facing being unemployed. This is as serious as it gets."

The same complaints, of course, were being made by buggy whip manufacturers at the inception of the automobile, not to mention candle makers upon the invention of Edison's light bulb. When you provide an obsolete service, eventually demand for it dries up, which is what could possibly happen now to the bail industry in Texas.

The Whitmire/Murr bill won't really eliminate the bail industry, of course, just focus it on more serious offenders. But the easy money in the bail game is made paying for release of low-level, low risk misdemeanants who have jobs, pay their bills, and are unlikely to flee the jurisdiction over a small-time case. What's now being recognized is, given that that's the case, government doesn't really need the bail industry to get those people to come back to court, and sustaining their outdated business model creates unintended consequences and damaging ripple effects across the system.

This will be a bitter fight, but a necessary one.

RELATED: From the Courthouse News Service, "Pressure mounts against the bail system in Houston."

8 comments:

Phelps said...

Like most systems in America, the bail bond system is designed to be deceptively regressive against those least able to defend themselves from the regression.

Anonymous said...

The Whitmire/Murr bill won't work.
Use Travis County for example... Travis County already uses similar jail release for both misdemeanor and felony cases through Pretrial bonds as in the proposed bill. Travis County releases approximately 80-85% of the people on Pretrial bonds... the results... both jails are still over crowded, Travis County has about 30k in outstanding warrants mostly from people missing court from Pretrial bonds and since 2010 has cost the Travis County taxpayers $50 million plus.
And to your low level, low risk misdemeanors comment... most people that miss court are in fact on misdemeanor charges.
This proposed bill will only make things worse because it will be a revolving door for people who commit crimes to simply be released over and over again only burdening the Texas taxpayers millions.
I suggest you look at the UT Dallas Jail Release study by Dr. Morris and look at the very bad things going on in New Jersey since the beginning of the year when they started bail reform. Research, understanding and common sense prove this bill won't work.
Yes I am a bondsman.

Anonymous said...

I will begin with, I am not a bondsman, but I worked in a large county in the criminal justice department for many years. The Whitmire/Murr bill is nothing more than an unfunded mandate created by the legislature and funded by the property owning citizens of Texas (property taxes are the primary source of all county funding). Most large counties in Texas have Pretrial bond offices. They are big and they are expensive. The bill will make them bigger and more expensive. The small counties will see the development of another county department with its layers of management and the cost that goes along with the bureaucracy. In most counties (even large counties) surety bond offices are small operations and they cost the tax payers nothing. If the purpose of the bill is to reduce jail population, then look at the large counties with huge pretrial service departments, they all experience jail over crowding. If you want to talk public safety (and I think that should be paramount) there were more defendants on PR bonds who were arrested for an additional offense while on bond then those on Surety bonds during my entire tenure at the county. In one year we had 2 defendants commit murder while on PR bond for misdemeanor offenses. After investigation we found that both of the defendants had been AWOL for months and this fact had not been reported to the court. If a defendant on a surety bond disappears, I can assure the bondsman informs the court ASAP.
In conclusion, I am not saying "if it ain't broke don't fix it" because the criminal justice system is definitely "broke" but the Whitmire/Murr bill is not the "fix" we need.

Phil Dick said...

I bet the bail bondsman are against marijuana legalization too. That must drive a lot of business their way.

Anonymous said...

"Whitmire/Murr bill is not the "fix" we need."

Then please feel free to offer an effective alternative as the problem and abuse have been around for years.

It seems that too many firmly belive that p*ssing on an electric fense ... twice ... will somehow result in a different outcome.

Anonymous said...

If misdemeanors are "fine only" why the bail reform ? Just make the "Law" clear no arrests on class "C" misdemeanors period !

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@1:36, there are other misdemeanors besides Class Cs, e.g., As and Bs.

Anonymous said...

Whitmire gets what he wants so this is pretty much a done deal. Looks like Texas Bondsman will have to focus on the dog pounds to make a buck. This reform is needed and welcomed.