Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Get to Know Your Community and Your Community Will Know You

Last week, I had dinner with a small group of bail bond agents and a dynamic up and coming prosecutor.  This prosecutor is a highly decorated lawyer who not only serves the people of Los Angeles each and every day, but does so with the mission to keep our streets and families protected and safe.  We spent the greater part of three hours talking about specific issues and concerns that our industry has with the state of the criminal justice system in Los Angeles.  Additionally, we also talked about larger state issues related to initiatives like AB109, the prison realignment program that is failing so miserably.  The prosecutor not only listened to the group’s remarks and concerns, but offered thoughtful insights and ideas on how to best work together and resolve them.

By the end of the evening, we had earned his respect and confidence as an important and knowledgeable resource that he could utilize in his daily work.  That is when it really hit me.  Because we had reached out to this person and invited him to “our table,” he now not only understood who we were as an industry, but more importantly, he now understood the bigger role that bail could play in California’s criminal justice system.  In other words, he was now more willing to invite us to “the county’s table” when he needed real knowledge and insights.

The purpose of this blog is to communicate out the most important lesson that I learned at this dinner.  And that is the act of reaching out and getting involved.  For far too long, the bail bond industry has been too silent or too fragmented to have its voice heard when it comes to legislation or public opinion.  Call it apathy on our industry’s part or intimidation and reluctance on the part of our local community leaders to reach out to the bail industry, but either way the time is right to put the past behind us and move forward together. 

When the criminal justice system works with the bail industry, great things can happen.  From better management of growing jail populations to more successful appearance rates and the serving of justice to effective use of technology and systems to monitor and track defendants pretrial, by working together, solutions can be developed and results not only achieved but exceeded. 

I encourage each and every bail agent that reads this blog to reach out to their local opinion leaders.  Introduce yourself. Explain your business to them.  Educate them.  Open your door and they will open theirs.  Bail is a local business.  Most bail bond agents work in communities that their parents worked in…that they grew up in and continue to live in to this day.  They work in the same communities in which they are raising a family.  It is time to step up and get involved and get to know your community and its leaders better…and in return, your community and its leaders will not only get to know you just a little bit better, but more importantly they will understand you and respect you.  And that is the first and most important step needed for change.

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