Monday, March 8, 2010

Pretrial Release Programs Finding More Tax Dollars to Waste

If you already subscribe to AIA Insight, than you probably saw a great article in our “Special Pretrial Issue” sent Friday afternoon…if you don’t receive our Insight newsletter than you may have seen this article through another source. However, if you have no idea what I am referring to, please click here to see a powerful WebMemo written by David Muhlhausen, Ph.D., the Senior Policy Analyst in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation, on how Pretrial Service Agencies are able to tap into funds provided through the “Economic Stimulus” program.

After reading this article, it is hard not to cringe with frustration and disbelief. The fact that our hard earned tax dollars are being spent to give grants to organizations that are designed to save money, but have only proven to do the complete opposite of that, is incredibly disheartening and flat out disappointing. I have written a couple blogs on Pretrial Release over the past few months, but I thought I would share my thoughts once again. At the same time, I invite everyone out there to comment and share their thoughts with me.

Anyone who has been in the bail bond industry for the past 30 years has seen these Pretrial Programs surface and disappear over and over again. However, today, it seems like wherever you turn there is another article on a county adding Pretrial Services or dropping Pretrial Services. Even though there is so much noise on the subject right now, the reality is that government sponsored pretrial release programs have never been able to stand up to their promises or hype. And the best part is, when asked to justify their existence; they are incapable of providing tangible statistics other than how much a jail bed costs or how many people who happen to be in jail. So, what is their solution? Let everyone out…because people are naturally good and responsible and will show up for their day in court because it is the right thing to do. Unfortunately this “Fantasy Land’ view of the world and the criminal justice system comes at the expense of taxpaying citizens who go about living our lives in a responsible way, only to have our tax dollars go to making our streets and neighborhoods less safe. Pretty crazy stuff, huh?

If there is a silver lining to all this, I can honestly say that I have been impressed with the tenacity and fight that bail bond agents and bail bond insurance companies have shown. With the Virginian’s for the Preservation of Bail making headlines in Virginia, and now Bail Works starting up in Florida, it is nice to see the bail bond industry work together in a cohesive and singular way. At the end of the day, I know in my heart and my mind that we will continue to win the fight against these ineffective government programs. Ultimately, there is a place for them and a place for us to coexist and do what we do best. Let them provide release to the truly indigent, and let private surety bail provide release to those individuals who can afford bail and even more, take on the responsibility of ensuring that those release ultimately show up at court…because that is the goal right?

I look forward to hearing your comments.

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