Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bail Bonds: Too Much Good To Be This Bad

As many of you know, I have been in the bail bond business for most of my life.  In that time, I have been fortunate enough to meet, get to know and become friends with hundreds of bail bondsmen.  From Florida to Pennsylvania to Washington State to my home state of California, I have met bail agents that not only take their profession seriously, but more importantly see their role as a “community member” as vital and necessary.  Over the years, I have seen bail agents start non-profit organizations, sponsor youth sports programs, give assistance to victims, hold public office in their communities, and so much more.  It is these types of things that not only humanizes the bail industry in a way that Hollywood and the media have not yet figured out, but also makes me and my entire family proud to be associated with such good and honorable people.

While I would like to say that all my memories are fond, I have to be honest and say that unfortunately that is not the case.  It is hard to deny that there is “good” in the bail bond business, but it is also hard to deny that there is “bad” as well.  Almost weekly, all one must do is go to Google and type in the word “Bail Bondsman” and you will see 1, 2, maybe 3 stories about bail agents doing things that you can’t believe (now don’t get me wrong…you can also type in “professional athlete”, “teacher” or “priest” and the word “scandal” and you will get even more results, but I am in the bail bond industry and that is the public image that I am most concerned with…I digress).  Anyway, things like agents caught in bribery schemes, agents busted for solicitation in the jails, or other types of unscrupulous behavior always seem to surface in the news.  Just this past week in California there were two negative stories about bail agents accused of doing illegal, unethical and just flat out stupid things.  It is really unfortunate that this small minority of bail agents that are trying to cut corners and succeed no matter what the cost affect the 99% of those agents that work hard every day to run their business in an honest and ethical manner. 

When are we going to wake up as an industry and realize that the actions of one bail bond agent affects the perception of all bail bond agents?  When are we going to realize that focusing on the good we do in our communities and the vital role we play in the criminal justice system, is a much better story to have the media focus on rather than the bad?  As a bail agent, what are you most proud of…the people and families you help when you get a loved one out of jail, or do you like chasing down a defendant that lied to you and is now on the run?  If you are like most agents I know, the enjoyment comes from the good…not the bad.  As an industry, we need to stop glorifying the chase and the hunting and focus more on the community strength and public safety we provide through our profession.  Until we whole heartedly believe we are as good as we are and start acting that way, we will remain easy targets for the media and our enemies.

I apologize for the dramatics, but this is a subject that is very personal and important to me.  That being said, I would like to put a challenge out to every bail agent and surety in the country to think about what they can do to increase the “good” and decrease the “bad.”  Whether we realize it or not, we are all in this together.  The question is can we all figure it out before it is too late?  Can we figure it out before the stupidity of some defines the professionalism of others?  Can we figure it out before we let the bad define the real good we are capable of?  I hope so…and to be honest, I know we can.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.