Now probably is not the most opportune time to jump into the commercial bail bond industry in California.

California will become the first state in the nation to abolish bail for suspects awaiting trial under a sweeping reform bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday.

This is set to go into effect Oct 2019. It is thought that there are 3000 registered Bail Bondsmen in the state, add in ancillary staff, skip tracers, recovery agents, etc, that  number  rises a great deal.

What are all these people going to do for work? I seriously doubt they want to become farm workers or tree trimmers filling in for the shortage of migrant workers, the workers that California relies on.

Every industry has a union or trade association, in the case of bail bonds it is the Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS). It’s web site claims to represent 15,000 members/companies. This means that PBUS is hardly a titan in the industry with many Bail Bondsmen thumbing their nose at the organization. I doubt that appointing ‘Dog’s’ wife Beth Chapman to lead PBUS did much to bolster membership.

I am not involved in the bail industry, but I do keep an eye on what is going on. What did PBUS do to stop this legislation? In my eyes, very little.

At the very least why didn’t  PBUS at least try and pick up some crumbs for the bail industry. How about the monitoring and recovery aspect? You know damn well California does not have the manpower to do those functions.

It is relatively easy to argue the case pro and con commercial bail. Pick a side and I’ll make the case. My heart says don’t lock people up because they are poor. My head says, don’t do the crime in the first place.

I can’t find the data, I have looked, what percentage of bail and OR recipients are found not guilty? I’ll bet the numbers are a statisticians dream. For the purpose of this discussion I’ll pick a number at random, yes I know that innocent people are arrested but I’ll bet the number of Guilty people is over 80%. The police generally (there are exceptions)  have little interest  in hauling innocent  people off to jail, there is way too much paperwork involved.

So now the question is what % of the people on commercial bail and what % of OR fail to appear at their court date? I don’t know the answer, but I’ll bet when you compare No Shows (FTA Failure To Appear) you again find an 80/20 split, 80% OR and 20% commercial bail.

The bail bondsman has a vested interest in making sure that the person turns up in court. Indeed the accused has a vested interest in showing up, the same 80/20 rule exists, 80% of the time it is a relative or friend that has put the money up often in the form of collateral, a house, a car, or something else of value.

The bail bondsman does his best to make sure that the accused is in court and on time.

On the OR side there are different forces at work, a FTA will result in a bench warrant for the arrest of the truant, but even if his or her location is known no-one will go arrest them, who has the time is the argument. The argument is often made the person will screw up again, so we will get him next  time.

In the case of a Commercial Bond ‘No Show’ a very different series of events unfold, a clock starts ticking, find this missing person or pay the entire amount  of the bond. No bondsman or the insurance company they work for want to do this. So the hunt is on! No federal resources are used, a good bondsman knows where to look and how to look.

Supporters of the new California law claim that it will fix the inequity of the current system and put a stop to the overcrowded  jails. Short term that might be true. I seriously doubt the fix will last long. As more and more people FTA, more and more will get stopped for some minor infraction, the FTA will force them to jail. We will be back to ground zero in no time.

Are there problems with Commercial Bail? Yes! But it is not the Bond Company at fault. Bond amounts have been soaring, Judges set bonds in the knowledge that  the amount  is way over what the accused can afford.

So, in this brave new world of no Commercial Bond, will we be safer or more vulnerable?

Be Sociable, Share!