Pomona Women Cast Off Bail's StigmaFriday, September 10, 2010
Ryan Carter, Staff Writer
Created: 09/09/2010 10:35:19 PM PDT
POMONA - Gloria Mitchell chuckled when told the name of her bail bonds firm sounds more like a shampoo or a hair salon.
But she welcomed the connection.
After all, she and her daughters are trying to buck the perception of her industry - stigmatized by a stereotype of cigar-smoking, jewelry-wearing, beefy guys with mullets who operate in a world of dingy offices and ready to take down criminals.
For Mitchell, whose Gloria Mitchell Bail Bonds is headquartered in a converted
Victorian-style home in Pomona, the business is really about integrity.
"We, as bail agents, need to be prepared to explain the process ... that I'm going to be professional, I'm going to have integrity ... so that (clients) understand what they are signing. I'm going to give everyone a fair chance."
Last week, Mitchell welcomed officials from AIA, an underwriter of commercial surety bails, to her office, where they helped launch AIA's ExpertBail.com, an online information hub for people who need bail.
AIA touted the hub as a way to build trust in a misunderstood industry. For Mitchell, it's fairness and integrity that will help build a new perception.
A penchant for fairness has come in handy for Mitchell and her family business in an economy that is hurting clients who are desperately seeking to get their friend, family, employee or themselves out of a jail cell, and who need to post bail quickly.
Because of the economic downturn, many of them no longer can put their house up for collateral on the required 10 percent of a bail, because they no longer have a home, Mitchell said. It's a fine line to draw for Mitchell.
As a bail agent, she's financially responsible for a client/defendant making all court appearances. But the ability to take on a client - which sometimes comes down to a gut feeling - is something handed down from Mitchell's mother, Mary Alice Nodal, to her daughters, Brandie Mitchell, 21, and Candice Morris, 24.
They've grown up in their mothers' business.
"I thought they were all bad people," Brandie Mitchell said of her initial thoughts in the business. "But as I went to classes and learned from my mother, it showed me not all of these people (clients) are bad. Many were in the wrong place at the wrong time."
But they've still got a job to do - getting defendants to court after they've posted bond. Mitchell and her family feel they are providing a public service - getting defendants to court. And they've done it in a very different way than "Dog the Bounty Hunter," on television. Mitchell got into the business by working with her mother, who went from a notary to a bail agent at Pete Brito's bail bonds in West Covina. In time, Mitchell took over Brito's business. Now, her daughters help her run it, and Mitchell's son, Cody, 17, is also interested.
But then changing perceptions is not a new thing for Mitchell.
She hosts an event each year called Tea for Two, which presents successful women who were teen mothers to speak to teen mothers - to offer some hope and encouragement. That effort in itself was an effort to change perceptions and stigmas about teen women who have children.
For more information, go to www.gloriamitchellbailbonds.com.
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