Private bail

Text messaging defendant court date notifications: A great practice that makes a lot of sense – when it it’s done by private bail agents rather than inept, unaccountable government workers.

The vocal advocates of publicly-funded “free” pretrial release programs have a continuing problem. Large numbers of their clients commit new crimes when released through these programs. More importantly, large numbers of their clients fail to appear in court. Judges, prosecutors and victims of crimes don’t like it when this happens. One option, of course, would be to release accused criminals on secured, monetary bail. When a defendant is released through a private bail agent, there is a tangible financial incentive for the released defendant to do the right thing. The bail agent pays a substantial penalty if they fail to produce his or her defendant in court. To protect this guarantee the bail agent almost invariably enrolls friends and family members to secure the bail bond.

The “no money bail” zealots, however, are adamantly opposed to anyone having skin in the game. They don’t think that anyone should be held financially accountable for the appearance of an accused defendant released pretrial. So in order to solve the problem of unacceptable failure to appear rates, they are now suggesting that simply texting court date reminders will be sufficient to guarantee court appearance.

It is laughable that the hundreds of thousands of fugitives across the country would willingly appear for trial if only they had gotten a friendly text reminding them of their court date.

Further, sending text messages to defendants out on bail is something that many private bail agents have been doing for years. They routinely send reminders and notices to not only the defendant but also friends, family members and employers who have signed on the bond.

One agent, Kahlil Welsh of Orlando, Florida uses text messaging for his own clients. Seeing what an effective tool is it, he founded a company that automates the process and makes it available to other bail agents. You can check out his outstanding mobile messaging platform for bail agents at his ecourtdate website.

According to Kahlil:

“The system is currently in beta testing for a re-launch this year with new features and improved reminders. And if I may recap, text message and email reminders are by no means a fix all solution to defendants failing to appear. It simply acts as an aid to the savvy bondsman who’s seeking to improve customer service and reduce the failure to appear rates caused by forgetful minds. Effectively ensuring a defendants appearance at court will always be a “boots on the ground” hands on effort, best performed by The Private Surety Bail Agent. It is my professional opinion as a 20 year veteran of the bail industry that simply sending  a text, or email to a defendant who has intentionally failed to appear, will not surpass the wealth of resources and the National reach of the local Bail Bondsman.”

Thank you, Kahlil! We couldn’t agree more.

Newsflash: “Money Bail fails to solve Climate Change!”

It would laughable if the stakes weren’t so high and the subject matter not so tragic.

According to their website, the Pretrial Justice Institute’s core purpose is “to advance safe, fair, and effective juvenile and adult pretrial justice practices and policies that honor and protect all people.” They are certainly not interested in protecting or honoring the approximately 17,000 hard-working private bail agents who make a living by assuring that accused defendants actually appear in court.

That said, the actual mission of this outfit is advocacy for the elimination of any and all monetary terms of pretrial release. They want to end what they refer to as “money bail.” (You and I call this secured accountable, pretrial release.) PJI attempts to “educate” policy makers and criminal justice stakeholders through the use of flawed studies, false premises, bad data and poorly disguised propaganda. They routinely disregard any academic studies whose conclusions are inconsistent with their core belief that the use of “money bail” to assure a defendant’s appearance in court is inherently wrong.

The Honorable Chief Judge Craig DeArmond In Danville, Illinois recently wrote an excellent essay, “Bail Reform – Is there another side to this argument?

His article is well worth distributing to the judges, politicians and policy makers in your jurisdiction. Chief DeArmond writes:

“Was I the only one who felt like we were being asked …, no, told we had to drink the Kool-Aid of no money bail reform or face eternal damnation?”

“What I found was the people so vehemently advocating this massive change in the bail system have been doing so under different names and different umbrellas for several decades. What they have in common is a progressive agenda being marketed as “evidence based practices”; the current buzzword in social engineering. Frequently funded by progressive philanthropists like George Soros and others, these groups have a much broader agenda than merely bail reform.

Don’t get me wrong… although I don’t personally agree with George Soros and his world view, nor will I ever be mistaken for a progressive, I have no problem with the fact that they are able to express their views. I take issue however, when we are given bad data, outdated studies, and recycled propaganda in the form of “judicial education” and being told essentially, there is no other perspective.

It does not take long when you start researching bail reform to find alternative positions, studies, and evaluations of the same data which produce dramatically different conclusions. It takes even less time to find jurisdictions which tried an increased use of no money bail and eventually returned to an expanded cash bail system due to the dramatic increase in failures to appear and crimes committed while free on bail.”

This judge deserves credit for recognizing that we are being sold a bill of goods. It is also worth noting that Chief Judge Craig DeArmond presides in Illinois — one of the few jurisdictions within the United States that prohibits the use of commercial bail.

So it’s obvious that the charlatans at the “Pretrial Justice Institute” will say or do just about anything in order to advance their agenda.  However, even in this light, the most recent blog post by PJI is disingenuous, shameless and disgusting.

Cherise Fanno Burdeen — the wing-nut CEO of PJI — claims to have actually figured out what causes domestic violence and how we as a nation can solve this horrific problem.

Even though domestic violence has been on a steady decline for decades, it obviously remains a horrible and heart breaking problem. In the United States an average of three women each day are murdered by intimate partners. We suffer the highest rate of domestic violence homicide of any industrialized country. Thousands of people experience domestic abuse every day. They come from all walks of life.

Cherise Fanno Burdeen, No tragedy too great to exploit.

Cherise Fanno Burdeen,
No tragedy too great to exploit.

Cherise Fanno Burdeen and the rest of the hypocrites at PJI have a solution to the complex problem of domestic violence: End money bail. Seriously. Presumably in honor of “Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” Burdeen obtained the names of four women who were each tragically murdered last year. According to this disingenuous dimwit, here is why these four women were murdered: “because of failed money bail systems.”

Unlike Burdeen, I am not going to exploit the names of these victims. The women who were murdered are real people, not props. But it is important to note that these victims were from four different jurisdictions across the United States – some of which do not even utilize secured, private bail or bail agents.

In some of the cases the accused murderers violated their conditions of pretrial release with no consequence. (In other words, the “supervised” release conditions touted by PJI). The actual facts obviously don’t matter to Ms. Burdeen or her comrades. Her concern is only for her narrative: “Money bail did nothing to protect these poor murdered women.”

Let’s be clear. Publicly funded government-run pretrial release programs don’t do anything to protect the public or victims of domestic violence. Note that PJI spotlights Washington DC as the poster-child for bail reform. The PJI website prominently proclaims that the nation’s capital is “DOING THINGS RIGHT” and “The District of Columbia does not use money to detain pretrial defendants.” Leaving aside the insane amount of tax dollars which they spend, this is the same pretrial release program that placed a GPS monitoring bracelet on a murderer’s prosthetic leg. This is the jurisdiction which allows repeat violent offenders, including rapists, to be released over and over again with no consequence.  Washington D.C. is where the Police Chief recently quit her job, saying, “The criminal justice system in this city is broken.” DOING THINGS RIGHT, indeed.

The critical distinction is that private bail agents have never laid claim to guaranteeing a defendant’s behavior – only his or her appearance in court. Burdeen’s insensitive blog piece doesn’t come right out and state the only logical option which could have actually served to prevent the four tragic murders. It is not “no money bail” as she claims. It’s no bail whatsoever.

This is the tragic irony. PJI’s advocacy invariably ends up promoting indefinite pretrial detention. Should all four of the accused defendants have each been held in jail with no bail? In hindsight, we would hope that they had been of course. But should everyone accused of domestic violence be held with no bail? Should the detention of an accused person – the deprivation of their liberty – depend on nine variables plugged into some “risk score” assessment?  PJI claims that their “core values” support pretrial detention only as the result of due process that determined no conditions would reasonably assure appearance and community safety. The same misguided folks who clamor for an end to “money bail” now advance the unintended consequence of the increased use of preventive pretrial detention. Burdeen and her cohorts have unwittingly become the most vocal proponents of “lock ’em up and throw away the key.” How else would Burdeen propose to actually protect the four murdered women whom she uses as an advertisement for her continued government funding?

Our Constitution’s prohibition against excessive bail means that we can’t keep accused defendants locked up in jail simply because they scored out wrong on a bogus “risk assessment” test.

So called “money bail” is an efficient and time honored way to secure the appearance of an accused defendant. A bail bond is a three-party contract between the state, the accused, and the surety, whereby the surety guarantees appearance of the accused. Ms. Burdeen is correct that private secured bail is not a panacea or a replacement for judges, police, and lawmakers. The prosecutors and judges who daily deal with accusations of domestic violence struggle mightily. They don’t get to blame tragic outcomes on flawed algorithms. Here are quotes from a judge and prosecutor in one of the cases which Burdeen gratuitously cites:

 “It’s not like you can just put information into a computer and spit out what the appropriate bail would be; I don’t think that would be realistic,” he said. “There are people that are charged with making that decision … looking at all the facts and all the input they get.”

The judge defended his decision, while also expressing anguish over its outcome. He said he decided to double the suggested bond from $50,000 to $100,000 based upon his experience and available court records, he told the CantonRep. And he said prosecutors did not recommend a bond amount.

“I’m not blaming anyone … but the red flags weren’t there,” he said.

At the same time, however, the judge also appeared to express remorse over the possibility that his ruling gave Dragan a second, and successful, alleged attempt to kill his ex-wife.

“I feel horrible about this situation,” he told the Canton Rep. “I sympathize with the family (and) with the children — it’s a terrible, tragic situation for the community. I feel terrible about it.”

“I think the judge made what he believed to be a good decision with the information that he had at the time and it’s always easy to look back,” the Canton prosecutor Ty Hauritz told the newspaper. “But I don’t … think (the $100,000 bond was) out of the ordinary.”

Private, secured bail works. It serves to assure the appearance of accused defendants who are released pretrial. Cherise Fanno Burdeen doesn’t like “money bail” or what we do for a living. That’s her prerogative. But it’s spectacularly insensitive to suggest that secured bail caused the deaths of the four murder victims whom she exploits in her blog. For her edification, here are a few other “Money Bond Failures”:

  • Money Bonds fails to improve the Miami Dolphin’s offensive woes
  • Money Bonds fails to balance the United States budget deficit
  • Money Bonds fails to achieve lasting peace in the Middle East
  • Money Bonds fails to spend taxpayer funds (like the $1.3 million the Pretrial Justice Institute burns through annually.)

This is what the “free” publicly-funded pretrial release charlatans try to pass off as neutral, unbiased, and “evidence-based” when they peddle their baloney.

I recently received a link to a blog written by a disingenuous lying twat named Tim Schnacke. Schnacke wants to eliminate financially secured bail. That’s certainly his prerogative and he is not alone in his misguided beliefs. There are a number of folks — invariably on some version of the public dole — who think financially secured bail is somehow wrong. They try to create data to support their position but, lacking that, they typically fall back on their fundamental belief that what we do for a living as bail agents is somehow morally wrong. They don’t like us. They don’t like that we earn a living (“money bail”). If you scratch hard enough what they really don’t like is “caging” people. (This is their latest euphemism for jailing criminals.)

Tim Schnacke, liar

Tim Schnacke. Academic degrees? Yep! Integrity? Not so much.

Tim Schnacke and the folks like him advocate that when a police officer makes an arrest for a crime — immediately following the arrest — the officer should apologize to the accused for society’s many shortcomings. The officer should also express remorse for the inconvenience of having had to endure the arrest. After issuing a sincere and heartfelt apology, the police officer should then uncuff the accused criminal and issue to them a written notice to pretty please appear in court for their trial. What could possibly go wrong with that?

But I don’t begrudge Tim Schnacke for being a misguided and naïve moron. He, of course, holds quite a different opinion of himself (taken from his website):

“I think I’ve had plenty of formal education, and I hope I’m not forced to get any more (although I’m taking two classes on Coursera!)

And even though he wants to eliminate my livelihood, I don’t have any qualms with him running his outfit “The Center for Legal and Evidence-Based Practices” and hustling up as many handouts and grants as he can. (I am not sure how he makes a living but panhandling on the internet is part of the mix.) What does irk me, though, is that Tim Schnacke consistently and repeatedly claims to be neutral.

“The Center is neutral and nonpartisan, but articulates positions when they are supported by unbiased research and laws with firm constitutional bases.”

On his website, he writes:

“I’m Tim, a neutral voice in the world of bail reform and pretrial justice.”

Astoundingly, he italicizes and bold faces “a neutral voice,” presumably to emphasize his shameless lie

Does this well-educated (“I have a law degree, a masters of law degree, and a masters of criminal justice degree in addition to the two degrees that I got in college!”) dolt sound “neutral” to you? Please read the following excerpts from his blog and website and make a determination as to whether he is unbiased and neutral.

“The secured money bail system not only causes countless harms to society, it defies virtually every notion of American freedom and equality that we defend in our founding documents. Its very existence makes us worse.”

“The American bail system hasn’t worked since 1900.”

“This generation of bail reform, as most of you now know, is not so much a fight against bail agents as it is a fight about money at bail – which is why the statement on the agenda of all the “threatening arguments against the bail industry” is so misleading.”

“with insurance companies making money for doing nothing”

“when people are fully educated in bail, they automatically move toward change, and that change involves adopting a risk-informed system of pretrial release and detention (both for assessment and supervision) using less or no money.”

“the current system – with all of those huge amounts of money based on charge – is fundamentally flawed”

“the idea of a bail schedule being anything less than arbitrary and completely irrational is ludicrous.”

“As my dear friend’s delightful middle school daughter might respond, “OMG!” Doesn’t discriminate against the poor?! Are you nuts? It’s a money-based system, for goodness sake. Bail agents only help defendants with money.”

“we have simply spent too long not thinking money bail wrong”

“There may be a place for private pretrial in America, but the window for finding that place is rapidly closing.”

“Personally, I don’t think money is ever appropriate, but for those judges having a hard time with that idea, using an unsecured bond at least gets the defendant out of jail quickly”

“If I were in the bail insurance business, I would stop trying to pick apart the Arnold study and start trying to figure out how to change my business practices so that defendants deemed safe enough for release would at least get released quickly, even if that meant I might not make as much money.”

“They are a business, after all, supported by big corporate insurance companies with a fiduciary duty to make money despite whatever erosion to justice that may cause.”

“We need complete reform, and we can only accomplish that reform by intentionally leaving out many of the people responsible for the current broken system.”

“The other day I had an older gentleman who had been involved in criminal justice for decades try to argue with me about what he saw were the benefits of secured money bail.”

Does any of this poppycock sound remotely “neutral” or “objective” to you?  Schnacke is a poster child for opponents of accountability in pretrial release practices. When the data doesn’t support their beliefs, these hypocrites shamelessly lie and change their terminology. (“Calling it ‘Risk Assessment’ will work!”) This is why Schnacke is so adamant in his claims that bail is not about appearance. (“The purpose of bail itself is to release people!”)

If Schnacke can persuade gullible policy makers that bail is about release and not appearance then pretrial release programs can compete effectively with private bail. Any program — even inept ones run by government employees — can release people from jail. That’s the easy part. The answer to jail overcrowding according to these morons? It’s simple. Just release defendants from jail and ask them to please appear in court for their trial date. In Schnacke’s fantasy world, bail is solely about releasing people from jail. That has never been the purpose of any of the thousands of bail bonds I have been involved in posting. Each bail bond we post is a commitment and an obligation to have the defendant appear in court. Failing in that obligation, we risk paying a substantial penalty to the state.

Hypocrites like Schnacke claim that bail agents don’t arrest bond skips and return them to court following a non appearance. (“I have research to prove it!” he claims.)  Have you ever met a single bail agency owner who has not located, apprehended and surrendered their bond skips back to the court? Have you ever met a bail agent who hasn’t on occasion had to pay a bond forfeiture because he or she was unable to locate a fugitive in time? I have not.

Private bail works because independent committed bail agents are financially accountable to the courts for the appearance of accused defendants. To protect their financial guarantee, bail agents enlist the support and participation of the accused defendant’s family members, friends, and employers to help ensure their appearance.

Pretrial release on private financially secured bail works. Tim Schnacke? Not so much. In lieu of actual work, he prefers to panhandle on the internet and try to convince anyone who will listen that our honorable profession ought to be eliminated and replaced with ineffective government programs. Here then is my “neutral” and “objective” informed opinion of Tim Schnacke: He is a liar and a hypocrite.

Having your cake and eating it, too.

The literal meaning of this shopworn expression is that you cannot both retain your cake and yet still eat it, too. If you eat the cake, it’s gone. You cannot have two incompatible things. The meaning of “having your cake and eating it, too” is similar to saying, “you can’t have it both ways.”

Yet more and more often lately, that’s precisely what the state seeks in bail bond forfeiture matters. The purpose of a bail bond posted by a surety bail agent is to have the defendant appear as required in court. If the defendant becomes a fugitive and fails to appear, the bail agent must locate, apprehend and surrender the fugitive defendant back to the jurisdiction. Failing that, the bail agent must pay a substantial penalty to the state — the full penal amount of the bond forfeiture. So the bail agent either produces the body in court, or pays the penalty for failing to do so. It sounds simple, correct?

The state wants to eat your cake, and have it, too.

The state wants to eat your cake, and have it, too.

But what happens when the state doesn’t want the body? Common sense would tell you that if the state doesn’t want the fugitive, then the bail agent should not have to pay a penalty for failing to deliver. More and more often though, this is precisely what is happening. The state determines that it doesn’t want the fugitive yet still pursues the collection of the penalty from the bail agent. The state wants two incompatible things. Actually, they want one thing: revenue. But revenue to the state has never been the purpose of a bail bond. The purpose of the bail bond is to ensure the appearance in court of the accused.

Laws governing bail vary greatly from state to state. In some jurisdictions a bail agent is prohibited from lawfully apprehending his or her fugitive. For example, if I write a bail bond returnable to Miami-Dade County, Florida and the accused flees to Kentucky, it is illegal for me to enter Kentucky and apprehend him. The only lawful way for me to fulfill my obligation in this case would be to have Kentucky law enforcement take the fugitive into their custody on the Florida warrant and to extradite the fugitive back to the jurisdiction of Miami-Dade County. I would then be liable to the state for the costs incurred by them in transporting my bond principal back to Miami-Dade, Florida.

All-too-often, though, in cases such as this, the state refuses to seek nationwide extradition of the defendant — even though the bail agent is on the hook for the costs of transportation. The warrant will specify that it is for Florida only or otherwise geographically limited. The reality is that the state often in actuality does not want to prosecute or deal with the defendant, but they do want the proceeds of the bond forfeiture. They want to eat your cake.

To help remedy this situation in Florida, the Florida Bail Agents Association is seeking to pass HB 731. The complete text of the proposed legislation is here. The pertinent language in the proposed bill reads as follows:

(d) A determination that the state is unwilling to seek nationwide extradition of the fugitive defendant within 10 days after a request by the surety to do so, and contingent upon the surety agent’s consent to pay all transportation costs incurred by an official in returning the defendant to the jurisdiction of the court, up to the penal amount of the bond.

If you are a Florida bail agent you should join the Florida Bail Agents Association and support these efforts. Don’t sit on the sidelines while the state tries to change your bond into a revenue stream. Don’t allow the state to eat your cake for breakfast.

They don’t have a clue

You would think that after all this time I would be immune to the special form of indignation that arises in me when it becomes all-too-clear that otherwise intelligent folks have no idea what it is I do for a living.

Magnifying_glass_icon_mgx2.svgI came across an article titled “Awaiting trial, they’re free to a point” that was recently published in the Sarasota Herald Tribune.  The article was written by reporter Dale White. Mr. White sang the praises of two local publicly-funded programs that release defendants and thereby “save” the counties up to $74 a day, which would be the costs of locking them up. The article claims that for as little as $1.81 a day these programs assure that “taxpayers are not getting stuck with the tab of confining someone.”

I took exception to the newspaper article and wrote the following to Mr. White:


Sent via email to: dale.white@heraldtribune.com

Mr. White:

Your article hyping the benefits of Sarasota and Manatee’s publicly funded bail programs is misleading at best. In Florida the terms “bail” and “bond” include any and all forms of pretrial release.

When Eric (who asked you not to use his last name) got arrested for driving drunk he was released on a publicly-funded bond. The taxpayers picked up his entire tab. Your article stated that poor Eric would likely have sat in jail for months, ruining his life and costing taxpayers more than $6,000 for his incarceration. This is poppycock. Almost certainly Eric would have bonded out – at his own expense rather than through these government programs. The bond for a drunk driving charge in Sarasota is typically $500. If Eric and his family and friends were unable or unwilling to post the $500, they could have easily obtained a bond from a Sarasota bail agent for $100. In addition, most bail agents in Sarasota are willing to take payments. Your statement that a bondsman may not even bother posting bond for low bail bonds is untrue. Every bail agent in Sarasota regularly posts bail for $100. So the question is: who pays for the bail for Eric? The accused and his friends and family, or the taxpayers of Sarasota and Bradenton?

No one is languishing in Sarasota or Manatee County jail because they cannot find a bondsman willing to post a $100 bail.

If you are going to claim that these two county programs “save” the taxpayers $880,000 each month in detention costs by releasing defendants from jail, then use the same math for Sarasota and Bradenton’s private bail agents. Applying the same logic and figures, private bail agents save the county millions of dollars, since their clients are released from detention as well — but at no cost whatsoever to the taxpayers.  If the publicly-funded program “saves” the county $74 a day (at a cost of $3.20 a day) then so does the private bondsman (but at no cost).

More importantly, the purpose of bail is not to reduce jail populations.  The purpose of posting bond is to guarantee appearance. Once again, the private bail agent provides a far better value to Sarasota and Bradenton residents. When a defendant in “Supervised Release” or “Pretrial Services” fails to appear nothing happens beyond the issuance of yet another warrant. One more warrant gets entered into the system along with the thousands of other open un-served felony warrants.  None of the government employees employed by these pretrial release programs is held accountable for the defendant’s failure to appear. Nor are they responsible for locating and apprehending the fugitive. In contrast, when a bail agent’s defendant fails to appear, the bail agent locates, apprehends and surrenders the defendant back to the county jail at no cost to the taxpayers. If the bail agent fails in this obligation, he or she pays a substantial penalty to the county.

Which is a better deal for taxpayers? Another ineffective government program whose real purpose is simply to let accused criminals get out of jail for free? Or private bail agents who guarantee the appearance of defendants released pretrial?

Lastly, according to your article, the ten employees of the Manatee program work weekdays only, while in Sarasota their program’s 25 employees work a whopping 325 days a year. A bondsman — whose services are available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year — would call that vacation.


Dale White got back to me:

From: White, Dale [mailto:dale.white@heraldtribune.com] Sent: Friday, August 28, 2015 2:59 PM
To: A Bail Bondsman
Subject: RE: Unequal Justice

Obviously, it was not my intention to hype. Perhaps the bail bond industry should convince the judiciary it should not be using these programs. The judges must see some merit in them.


And I responded:

Dale,

Thanks for getting back to me. Frankly, part of the reason judges see merit in these programs is due to poorly researched articles and a successful campaign being waged by these programs. How many of the defendants released through these programs subsequently fail to appear? Frequently, these programs hide their true number of failures. For example they base their failure rate on total court appearances (If a defendant has ten court appearances and only misses his trial, they pass that off as a 10% failure rate).  Or they “disqualify” clients for breaching and no longer even count them when they fail to appear. The best method for researching this matter is to look at open felony warrants. How many are there in Bradenton and Sarasota? What happens when a person released to this program fails to appear? Does anyone look for the fugitives?

Isn’t it almost certain that Eric (name withheld) would have bonded out? And if so, wouldn’t the taxpayers be better served by having him post a private bond? Are there really poor folks languishing in your two jails due to their inability to post bond? I know that it was never your intention to hype, but I think you were sold a bill of goods.

Maybe in the future when you are covering pretrial release matters, you could touch base with one of your local bondsman. There are really good ones in Sarasota and Bradenton. If you need contact names or telephone numbers of local agents I can provide them to you. Alternatively, I can provide you with information pertaining to bail. Feel free to contact me anytime.


And here is the email that made me crazy:

 From: White, Dale [mailto:dale.white@heraldtribune.com] Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2015 2:58 PM
To: A Bail Bondsman

Subject: RE: http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20150822/ARTICLE/150829880

I forwarded Mr. Heffernan’s comments to Manatee County Supervised Released (without his name) to see how they might respond. Here is what I received back:

As to the comments below, I have looked up Eric’s case again, just to be sure that I am stating facts. When Eric was originally arrested, he was placed on Supervised Release with electronic monitoring, at his own expense. Therefore, the only expense to the taxpayers, is the Supervised Release program, which you explained the cost in the article. That is fact. Saying that almost certainly he would have bonded out is an opinion. He could have bonded out prior to his hearing and did not. He had a subsequent hearing, in which the electronic monitoring was deleted and he was required to post bond. This bond was through A Heaven Sent Bail, which is a private company.

I do not know the rules of bond companies, though, clients have told me they do not take payments. The County does not ever post bond for anyone. That is the purpose of our program. There most certainly are clients in jail, with a prior history, that are unable to post $100 bond or find a bondsman. That is fact. I’m sure the Public Defender could provide numerous cases of this. No one said that bondsman don’t save the county money. They just don’t have the same responsibilities to the court.

His comments about us issuing a warrant vs. their paying money make no sense. How are we to be held accountable for them attending court? Short of watching clients 24 hours per day, that is not possible. The bondsman don’t do that either. Furthermore, the bondsman don’t ensure they are following the conditions set by the court, such as no contact with the victim or no drugs/alcohol. This puts the safety of the community at risk. The County is responsible for their apprehension, as it is the deputies and officers that arrest them.

Our staff work 7 days per week, just not 24 hours per day. I understand that bondsman serve a purpose too, but they should stick with facts.

Let me know if you need further clarification.


 “How are to be held accountable for them attending court?” Huh??


Me, again:

Mr. White,

Thanks so much for fostering this dialog and your openness to examining this issue.

A few points:

  • Following his arrest, Eric was almost certainly encouraged not to bond out prior to his first court appearance, since he would have been advised that he would get out for “free” through the program.
  • When he discovered his release was not “free” and required an electronic bracelet that he had to pay for, he had his private lawyer (that he paid for) file a motion to get that condition removed and he agreed to pay for a bond through a private bail agent. If he was on bond, why would the taxpayers need to pay for his continued enrollment in the program?
  • Most every bail agency in Bradenton and Sarasota will take payments and this is easy enough to confirm.
  • The county certainly does post bond insofar as Florida Statute 903.011(1) defines the terms “bail” and “bond” to include any and all forms of pretrial release. So, again, the question remains: who should pay for the bond securing release? The friends and family of the accused? Or the taxpayers?
  • It easy enough to confirm that most every agent in Bradenton and Sarasota regularly posts $100.00 bonds. Defendants are not languishing  in jail because they are poor or unable to find a bondsman willing to post a $100 bond. They are in jail because they are a demonstrated flight risk or, more often, they have other holds such as violation of probation, immigration, or prior failures to appear.
  • The primary purpose of any bond (cash, corporate surety, supervised release, etc) is to guarantee the appearance of the defendant. If a bail agent fails in this obligation he or she pays a substantial penalty to the county equal to 1,000% of what they grossed for posting the bond. (For example: If Gary Johnson collects $100 gross for posting the bond and the defendant fails to appear and cannot be located by Gary, Gary pays 10 times what he collected as a penalty.) In contrast the spokesperson for the pretrial release program says “How are we to be held accountable for them attending court?” Question: If they cannot adequately assure appearance in court, how can they claim to enforce the other conditions? A private bail agent is accountable for ensuring that his clients appear in court.
  • If a defendant on bond fails to appear, the bondsman goes out and apprehends them. If a defendant released through the program fails to appear, the county gets another warrant entered into the system.

The article that you wrote leads with the misleading statement that poor Eric might still be sitting in jail with his life ruined if not for this program. Now we learn that Eric did, in fact, pay for electronic monitoring, a private attorney, and a private financially secured bond.

Again, thank you for being open to learning more about what we do for a living.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me anytime.


This, then, is what we are left with from the spokesperson of the Manatee County Supervised release program:

“How are we to be held accountable for them attending court? Short of watching clients 24 hours per day, that is not possible. The bondsman don’t do that either.”

I would write more but I need to go look for a bond skip. Either that or pay a $50,000. penalty to the county within 60 days.

And so it goes.