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Bail Bondsmen Aren’t Bad Guys

Thursday, May 26, 2011

See the article below published by the Portland Tribune. Two readers responded to an article written by Sheriff Dan Stanton regarding how bail bondsmen “pose a danger to public”.

Bail bondsmen aren’t bad guys

With all due respect to Sheriff Dan Stanton, much of his information is wrong in regard to today’s fugitive recovery agents or bounty hunters (Bondsmen pose danger to public, My View, May 13).

1) In states that regulate bail and bail recovery agents, they cannot dress or wear badges that imply that they are law enforcement officers.

2) Bail recovery agents are enforcing a private contract between the defendant and the bail bond company. There are no constitutional rights violated, such as having to read the defendant their Miranda rights. Bail recovery agents are not making a new arrest, they are enforcing their own rights as the “jailer of choice” that the defendant chose. That was settled in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Taylor v. Taintor.

3) Many pretrial and retention agencies impose conditions on the release of defendants such as drug testing, classes, etc., before the defendant is even convicted of what they are charged with. So it is no longer innocent until proven guilty, but you are guilty if you want to be released from jail even before going to court. Now, that is a violation of constitutional rights.

4) Studies also show that when a defendant is out on surety bail, because the family or friends co-sign the bail contract, that defendant is way more likely to appear in court for their case than when released through pretrial services that are taxpayer funded. Private surety bail does not cost the taxpayers any money.

5) In states that enforce their own bail rules and regulations, the bail agents do pay the full amount of the bail if they fail to deliver the defendant back to court. I personally have paid thousands to California courts when I failed to locate and return the defendant within the allotted time. Bail agents are the only part of the criminal justice system that have to perform each and every time. If we lose a defendant, we are the only ones held financially responsible for our failures. Judges, police officers and attorneys do not get “penalized” for losing a case, making a bad decision or failing to arrest a criminal.

6) Yes, there are “bad” bounty hunters. The bail industry has been working to rid the profession of those individuals. Many states have very strict education, training and operating requirements.

7) Finally, when a defendant is out on pretrial release, if they fail to appear it is not the pretrial and retention employees who go out and look for the defendant – it is law enforcement that has to. That takes time and resources away from other duties. With private surety bail, it is the bail agent’s responsibility to locate that defendant. Otherwise, the bail agent is the one that will have to pay the court the full bail amount.

Tony A. Suggs
Richmond, Calif.

Column didn’t back up facts

“Study after study shows that people out on surety bail (posted by bondsmen) commit more crimes while on release than do defendants assigned to pretrial release programs” (Bondsmen pose danger to public), My View, May 13).

Please list your references to these so-called studies if you are going to refer to them.

Without references, there is no merit to your accusations.

Madison Jones
Riverside, Calif.

Original Article:
Bondsmen pose danger to public
Readers’ Letters