Blog Archives

An article recently published on raises questions about the number of defendants obtaining pretrial release through discounted bonds, and the effect such practices have on community safety. The article cites both public officials and certain bondsmen for their concern about such practices. According to the, 17,000 accused felons have failed to appear in court, and it is suggested that in part, this is because “the [r]ules that require bondsmen to collect a certain percentage of each bail bond are routinely ignored.” (more…)

Sheriff Bob White and his staff are seeking $4 million in additional funding for the 2010-2011 year from the Pasco Board of County Commissioners, which would increase his current $85 million budget to nearly $90 million. According to a recent news article in the St. Petersburg Times, the Pasco County Sheriff typically gets about 98% of his requested funds, which would put the expected award somewhere between $88 and $90 million. The total Pasco County budget for 2010 – 2011 is around $1 billion, which puts the Sheriff’s office at about 10% of the budget. However, as with most counties this year, $90 million is a lot of money to spend on corrections, particularly when this recession has created so many other pressing needs. (more…)

Typically, bail bondsmen tout their worth to courts by pointing out their role in ensuring the appearance of bonded defendants in court when required. When defendants contract with bondsmen in order to obtain pretrial release, the bondsmen also become contractually obligated to the court for the full amount of the bond. (more…)

Charlotte, North Carolina is implementing some changes in its bail-setting policies that are supposed to reduce the pretrial detention of low-risk defendants while simultaneously preventing high-risk defendants from making bail. According to a July 6 article in the Charlotte Observer, judges and magistrates who set bond in Mecklenburg County currently only have limited information about defendants and minimum bond suggestions for each crime. While these suggestions are not mandatory, the article intimated that most judges adhere closely to the suggestions in order to avoid setting unconstitutionally excessive bonds. (more…)

In Broward County, a recent announcement of the closure of a 544-bed jail tower is raising concerns over how the county intends to handle inmates. According to a recent article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinal, Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti is closing the wing in response to budget cuts. However, pursuant to a 1976 lawsuit and subsequent court order, federal authorities closely monitor the Broward County jails to ensure they do not exceed their designated capacity. (more…)

A recent news article out of Mississippi illuminates the problems which can arise when courts are forced to rely on money bonds to protect the community from dangerous defendants.  In Jackson, a man was charged with attempted carjacking and kidnapping, and the local judge set his bond for $1.5 million. According to the article, the defendant was making death threats while he committed the crimes, and the judge felt the defendant’s actions were serious enough to warrant an extremely high bond. As a local attorney noted, such a high bond is in effect a denial of bail. (more…)

The discovery by a St. Louis newspaper of corrupt practices between the city court's bond commissioner, Mary Catherine Moran, and the city's largest bail bond agency, has led to some dramatic changes in the way St. Louis judges make bail decisions. A committee of judges conducted an investigation into Moran's behavior and discovered that she changed the terms of bonds for up to twenty defendants, some of whom were violent offenders, making it easier for them to pay surety bonds to Bob Block Bonds and obtain pretrial release. (more…)

Now the bail bond industry in Broward County, through their website, is advising people who get arrested not to accept pretrial service supervision because “they will be accountable” for their behavior while under supervision! Isn’t that exactly what we want? Isn’t that exactly why Broward judges impose this supervision in the first place? The only problem appears to be that holding defendants “accountable” for their actions doesn’t make bail bondsmen any profit. This is the same industry that currently has a bill pending in the legislature, Senate Bill 782, designed to put even fewer people under accountable supervision while awaiting trial. Why does the bail bonding for profit industry want less supervision of those arrested and charged with a crime? I guess accountability doesn’t pay, only crime does.