Bail Bond Confessions Blog

NPR has it wrong | January 25, 2010

NPR’s “All Things Considered” has a 3 part scathing story on bail bonds in America.   I have to say it is a seriously flawed report. First, the reporter focuses on a few individuals in three different jurisdictions and then uses their experiences to paint a picture across the whole nation.  If one baseball player is caught using steroids, does that mean that every baseball player does? Of course not.

Next, she conveniently ignores the fact that judges set bail and the conditions for bail.  Bondsman have absolutely no control over this, yet they are vilified as being “in control” of who gets free and who doesn’t. Poppycock.

Then, she ignores four other jurisdictions that ban the use of commercial bail bondsman (Oregon, Kentucky, Illinois, and Wisconsin) rather than comparing the experiences of defendants in those systems to those in the rest of the nation or even just in Lubbock, Broward, and NYC where she focuses. Probably, the reporter choose to ignore these other states because they did not support her supposition that the system is flawed and corrupt and if we got rid of commercial bail, the system would be better for it. Instead, those states have massive problems with defendants not showing up for court dates.

She also tries to tie the entire country together under the umbrella of flawed system, though clearly every state regulates their bail industry differently. There are radical differences between states on the fees that can be charged, conditions that can be set, and the way forfeitures are dealt with.  Instead of highlighting these differences and showing which states are most successful, she focuses on the weaknesses and alleges that every state has the same problems when clearly this is not possible.

Finally, and most importantly, she tries to make the point that poor people who can’t afford bail and that are not accused of major crimes are suffering here and they should be let “free” under PTI.  I have nothing against PTI and I support its use in the appropriate circumstances.  However, if these poor people who didn’t commit major crimes are really not a flight risk, why did the judge issue them bail in the first place?  Why not just let them out on their own recognizance?

I’ll tell you why.  Because when you are poor and you are a repeat offender, regardless of your guilt or innocence, you are not likely to have very many ties to keep you in the area, much less to ensure that you show up for your court date.  So if you are let out on a PR bond, you will likely skip out on court.

This is the point that the reporter is missing about why bail is set in the first place.  Bail is not a punishment nor is it an assumption of guilt.  It is just a tool that the courts can use to ensure that a defendant will show up to court.

PTI is really no different than a bail bondsman.  Both systems provide a check and balance function to ensure that individuals accused of a crime show up for court.  The main difference is in how they are funded.  PTI is funded by tax payer money.  Bail Bondsman are paid by the Defendants and/or their family.




  1. I would have to say that your comments are at the least as one-sided as you claim the NPR story is. Your criticize NPR for generalizing from a few cases to the entire nation, yet I don’t see any hard evidence here to refute anything in the NPR story.

    What are the problems that you cite that are occurring in the states that do not allow commercial bail bonding? If the bail bonding system is working so well, why are jails so over crowded. If bonding lobbies are not manipulating the system why would local politicians abandon a program that was saving millions of taxpayer dollars and apparently causing no serious issues of safety in the community.

    I don’t buy your side of this story. Once again, a special interest has lobbied the government against the public interest.

    Comment by dsut56 — January 25, 2010 @ 9:35 pm

    • Sir or Ma’am,

      I don’t think I need to apologize for a self-evident bias. It should be clear from the description of my blog that I am a bail bondsman and not a reporter. Reporters, on the other hand, are supposed to report facts, not opinions. So while it is appropriate for me to write a one-sided diatribe, it is most definitely not appropriate for an “All Things Considered” reporter to do so.

      On to your other points: Problems that occur in states that do not allow commercial bail bonding? Namely the defendants do not show up for court. If you want to swim through statistics, I suggest the following source:

      Next, you question “If the bail bonding system is working so well, why are jails so over crowded?” If fish breath oxygen, why do they not live in the clouds? One thing has nothing to do with the other. Jail over crowding is a serious issue, but our system of bail bonds was never implemented with the intent of keeping our jails empty. The sole purpose of bail is to ensure the defendant shows up to court. Again, it is not a punishment and it is has nothing to do with regulating jail populations. If a judge doesn’t feel that defendant will be true to his word and show up to court on his own, he or she can set a bail amount. The purpose of the bail is only to ensure that the defendant shows up to court. In most jurisdictions, the defendant can post the full amount of bail with the court and go on his/her merry way. Bail bondsman are an alternative which the defendant can use to their advantage. The bondsman provides a service to the defendant at 1/10th (on average) the cost of the court and the court is happy to let them because the bondsman then gives their word that the defendant will show up to court. If the defendant doesn’t show, the court can and will take the full amount of the bail from the bondsman. It is far easier for the court to collect from a bail bondsman than it is to collect from an individual.

      I can not emphasize enough that the point of bail is to ensure the defendants show up to court. When you keep that in perspective, the straw hat argument that commercial bail fails to keep our jails empty enough becomes apparent.

      Let me make one additional point. The system sucks. It is cumbersome, bureaucratic, and wasteful. It takes people and churns them up and wears away at their will to defend themselves. But you know what? We should want it that way. The thought of having to deal with all of this crap if you get yourself in trouble should be more than enough encouragement to the average citizen to keep their nose clean. If there are little or no repercussion to our actions, our society would be filled with anarchy instead of order. Think about that before you turn your nose up at a system of justice that has been honed to its current state over hundreds of years.

      Finally, I encourage you to read some of my previous entries. These are real world stories of interactions between my clients, the system, and me. I have seen and heard some pitiful stories. I have no idea how a white upper-middle class man can be given a personal recognizance bond for 33 counts of tax fraud, but a geriatric wheelchair-bound black man is given a $240 bond for failing to update his driver’s license. I’ve bent over backward to offer clients payment plans and had them deliver their first payment of $100 on a $200 bond in a coffee can filled with loose change that they borrowed from a grandmother. That deal was already delayed several days as they had to beg the final $20 from a friend. I’ve had clients that sat in jail for over 30 days because it was either pay the bondsman $100 or pay the rent. I know it is tough out there and I do my best to work with my clients and I’ll tell you what…every single one of my clients has had nothing but thanks for me when I am able to get them out. None of them have ever been resentful, felt abused, or taken advantage of. Sure, PTI should be an option for some of them, but not the repeat offenders.


      Comment by bailbondconfessions — January 26, 2010 @ 12:54 am

      • The main Statistic that is always being used against Sullivan’s’ arguments has absolutely nothing to do with what she is saying. This Bureau of justice study only refers to felonies in the largest counties. Her entire point is centralized around non violent misdemeanors who cannot afford bail. I would love to see one study that included misdemeanors showing the same trends.

        Comment by raisetheord — November 10, 2011 @ 6:02 am

  2. You say:

    “when you are poor and you are a repeat offender, regardless of your guilt or innocence, you are not likely to have very many ties to keep you in the area, much less to ensure that you show up for your court date. So if you are let out on a PR bond, you will likely skip out on court.”

    Are you any less likely to skip out if you got a bailbond rather than Pretrial Release? Hell no – because as Sullivan points out, bail bond businesses do not typically track down their clients. Why should they? The state will take care of rounding them up, and the court will cut them a deal on the money owed – so good they might still make money on the deal.

    And do not give me some personal story about a client who lost you money. NPR is not perfect, but they are a professional, fact-checked news organization that made a point of doing research of national trends to back up the gist of the individual stories presented: “NPR found bondsmen getting similar breaks in other states.”

    This system is incredibly sick and is evidence of how power structures can occasionally conspire to make very small groups of people rich at terrible costs to society.

    Comment by jack — January 26, 2010 @ 4:03 am

    • “Are you any less likely to skip out if you got a bailbond rather than Pretrial Release? Hell no”

      Correct, but NOT “because as Sullivan points out, bail bond businesses do not typically track down their clients.” The reason why you won’t skip under PTI or a bail bondsman is because in either case, you are being monitored. PTI is a fine program and it has it’s place, I’m not arguing that.

      Your assertion that “The state will take care of rounding them up” is wrong. Do you seriously think the cops have nothing better to do than search for people who have outstanding warrants? Get real. I may not agree with his methodology, procedures, and grandstanding, but when was the last time you ever saw Dog the Bounty Hunter picking up his skip from the cops? There is an entire industry devoted to tracking and apprehending defendants that skip out on their court dates.

      The statistics that I’ve been taught are that 1 out of 10 defendants that are out on bail bond will run. Of those, 99 out of 100 will be apprehended by Bond Enforcement Agents.

      The only time cops get involved are in one of two situations: a) the bondsman has located the defendant and requests police backup when making an apprehension. b) the police find themselves in a situation where they run a check on a suspect they have detained and find that he/she has outstanding warrants.

      In either case, it is clear that the cops aren’t out there spending their days searching for a dude that skipped court.

      I agree that NPR is not perfect and that they are a fact-checking news organization. A fact is a statement that is backed up by corroborating evidence. An opinion is a statement that can sound logical but is not defensible as it is not backed up by facts.

      I do not argue with the reporter’s statment on costs for housing inmates in jails. Those are clearly facts and I assume she had them vetted. But this is what the report said: “Statistically, most bail jumpers are not caught by bondsmen or their bounty hunters. They’re caught by sheriff’s deputies, according to Beni Hemmeline from Lubbock’s district attorney’s office.”

      I’m sorry, but does the reporter have anything to back the opinion of a Deputy District Attorney? Wait a second, what did my Google search find? Mr. Hemmeline works in the CIVIL division of Lubbock’s court system. He isn’t even working with the criminals! (

      I would like to see that statistics for Lubbock. Then I would like an analysis done to see if Lubbock is aberration. It is already clear from the article that the way bail bond business is done in Lubbock is not the way it is done in the rest of the country.

      “NPR found bondsmen getting similar breaks in other states.” I wouldn’t discount this either. But lets put it in perspective. How many bondsmen did they find that had their bonds forfeited in other states? Is the ratio 1:100 for the bondsman that gets a break vs. the ones that don’t? Without the facts to back it up, my statement is just as valid as the reporter’s.

      But enough semantics. The report is clearly misleading her audience to accomplish her agenda. She tried to tie the bail bond industry to the jail over crowding issue. One thing has nothing to do with the other. If you want a solution to jail over crowding, look to the courts. Examine why the court dockets are so clogged and come up with solutions to moving cases through the system much faster.

      I agree that it is ludicrous to keep a defendant in jail for months on end on minor charges. But that is the problem of the courts being inefficient, not the bondsman.

      Oh and of course it is going to cost a hell of a lot more to house an inmate in jail than to let them out in a monitoring program. The reporter made sure to let you know this, but she does not tell you why the costs are so disparate.

      When a person is in jail, they have to be cared for. It is expensive to house, feed, protect, and provide medical care for a person. Just ask your parents how much you cost them as a kid growing up.

      Yeah, jail isn’t a fun place, but think about it. If you are poor and homeless and living on the street, might it be a better personal solution for you to commit a minor crime and get arrested so you can get 3 squares, some decent sleep, and maybe they will look at that tooth that’s bothering you?


      Comment by bailbondconfessions — January 26, 2010 @ 9:19 am

  3. Jack,

    I am a licensed bailbondswoman and a licensed PI in the State of Texas. I would love for anyone who thinks that we allow Law Enforcement to pick up our skips, ride along with us as we are apprehending fugutives. We work 24/7 trying to ensure that we can complete our committment to the courts and have all of our defendants in court as ordered. When we cannot find the defendants, we are obligated to pay for those bonds. In the meantime we are doing surveillance, skip-tracing, and dealing with dangerous situations daily to ensure that we fulfill our obligations to the courts. Now I ask you, which kind of an offender is more dangerous and most likely to re-offend….Is the the offender who knows that at any given moment he is being tracked and watched, and that his bondsman is going to do their job and apprehend him/her…..or is it the offender who knows that no one is looking for him/her and can work anywhere, go anywhere, and do anything that he or she wishes because unless they are stopped in a traffic stop or involved in some dealing where law enforcement may run their name…..NO ONE is looking for them. And we can also utilize programs such as gps, electronic monotoring, scram, etc… for our clients. The difference is that when the defendants violate with us, we act immediately. If they violate with a pre-trial program, then the MAY JUST MAY, get a slap on their hand and told not to do it again. That is real nice when an alleged offender is constantly violating his exclusions zones and harrassing his alleged victims.

    Things have changed in the world of bondsmen. I opted our of my Masters Program at college to become a bondswoman. And please do not go under the misconception that bondsmen are rich and just take people’s money. We work very hard to ensure that our clients go to court and fulfill theirs’ as well as our obligations with the courts. None of us are rich, and we write checks to the county all of the time. Now keep in mind, our forfeiture rate is around 6% as opposed to pre-trial which is anywhere from 40% to 66% at any given time. (I am basing this on the last stats that were given to me approximately 6 months ago) So I beg you to please feel free to come and work with us and then tell us how you feel about our profession. Every person who has ever found out how our profession actually works, has said “I take back anything I have ever thought or heard about bondsmen.” They will continue to say how hard we work and how “crazy” we have to be to deal with the things that we have to deal with. That being said, I love my Job and have words of praise from my clients as well as the community.

    Comment by Chloe — January 26, 2010 @ 11:39 pm

  4. Can someone clearly state what happens when the defendant doesn’t show up for trial months later?

    Is it

    a) bond company is supposed to pay but generally only pays some 5% of the bond (NPR version)

    b) bond company pays up the whole amount (my reasonable expectation)

    Also, what guaranteed does the state have that the bondsmen will even honor the bond ?

    Comment by Andy in NC — January 27, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

    • Hi Andy,

      Your confusion is understandable. The simple answer is that every state does it differently. In fact, there may not even be cohesiveness within every county within a state. I know that in my state, it is left up to the judge’s discretion. State law provides some guidelines, but that is about it.

      For the most part, judges will often give bondsmen a certain period of time to capture and return defendants to court. They may get an extension if they are able to provide the judge proof that they are closing in. Some judges may waive the entire forfeiture if the bondsman capture and return the defendant, others may start charging the bondsman a percentage of the bond from the first day that the defendant misses court. Usually there is a time limit and if the bondsman is unable to return the defendant within that limit, they have to pay up for the full amount. I have heard of some bondsmen not having to pay the full amount if there were extraordinary circumstances at work. It would have to be a situation outside of the bondsman’s control yet within the control of the State. These are usually pretty rare occurrences.

      You also ask what guarantee that the state has that the bondsman will honor the bond?

      Bail bonds is a form of insurance and as such it is strictly regulated by most states. For instance, in my home state, I have a license that I have to maintain each year. If I fail to maintain my license, the state will shut me down and prevent me from doing business legally. One of the many ways I could lose my license would be to ignore a directive from a court. Additionally, most states require bondsman post collateral with the state. If need be, the state can collect on that collateral to fulfill a bond forfeiture.

      Remember, the purpose of the bond is to ensure that the defendant shows up to court. It is not a penalty or a punishment and has nothing to do with guilt or innocence.


      Comment by bailbondconfessions — January 27, 2010 @ 3:58 pm

  5. Unfortunately, Ms. Sullivan story is so extremely one-sided and contains so few actual facts on the bail bond industry; one can only assume no small degree of media bias.

    The incredible thing is that there are legitimate, objective sources out there, including a large national study published by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics on the effectiveness of various forms of pretrial release. But did Ms. Sullivan use this source for her story? Apparently not. Additionally, the bail bond industry is filled with experienced, knowledgeable people that have years and years of expertise, but were they given fair and objective representation in the story? Apparently not. The family of insurance companies that I represent have been in the bail bond business for a combined total of over 175 years and I myself have over 40 years in the bail bond industry and would probably have been someone that Ms. Sullivan would have wanted to interview (click here for my CV…but did she or her research team ever contact me? No. That being the case, here are just a few facts Ms. Sullivan, or her staff, or someone at NPR would have learned had they bothered to ask the right people:

    PART 1. There are not half a million people who “can’t make bail.” Retail sellers of bail have adjusted their pricing models to accommodate the financial difficulties arising from the current weak economy and attendant joblessness. The fact is that the ONLY people in pretrial detention today who can’t afford a commercial bail bond are (1) pure transients or (2) persons who are so extremely recalcitrant that they have burned every bridge with family and community. And these persons, if released, are almost certain to flee, and therefore no responsible judicial officer would allow them released in any case.
    The other single exception is where, due to the seriousness of the crime, the bail is set so very high that no persons of average means can qualify, but the pretrial release agencies say they do not take these persons out anyway.

    PART 2. Pre-trial release programs are not “dying out” because of “assault from the bail bonding industry.” They are failing because local government leaders are coming to understand that the performance of these taxpayer funded agencies is so poor as to constitute a public safety danger and also to thwart the orderly functioning of their justice system. The only independent credible research shows that far too many people so released from pretrial custody never return to court, (in some operations over 50%) AND the rate of recidivism among such fugitives is inordinately high.

    PART 3. NPR’s assertions in this part are based upon their lack of understanding.
    In short, there is definitely “another side” to the NPR story. And this other side is so easily available and so important to a fair appraisal of the U.S. Bail Bond System that one cannot help but wonder: Why didn’t they ask?

    It becomes rather obvious that, for whatever reason, NPR has a design on the enervation of private sector bonding in favor of taxpayer funded government programs, and this even at the cost of additional crime victims. One can only wonder why.

    NPR wants to blame the private sector bail bonding industry on people being in jail. It does not understand that some people in pretrial custody should be so detained. The 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee free release pending trial, but just that bail shall not be excessive. NPR doesn’t mention the part about ensuring the reappearance of the defendant as directed. Statistics show conclusively that releasing all persons charged merely upon their own promise to come back for trial does not work. If you want to know the facts…or shall I say the myths of Pretrial Service Agencies…visit and request a whitepaper.

    Comment by Jerry Watson — January 27, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

  6. This article by the NPR was placed for commentary on a popular blog “Grits for Breakfast,” that covers the criminal justice issues in Texas. The following was my response; it is lengthy but hopefully it will answer a few questions that seem to be left open in the minds of some of your bloggers.

    My response:

    It’s hard to get a starting point here because the NPR is so absurd and it’s difficult to respond to such absurdity.

    For starters the jail is full of people because they have been charged with a crime (generally). Some people are in jail because they are charged with serious offenses, others are charged with an offense and they have multiple priors, and a lot of people in are jail because they are in jail on a probation violation with no bond. The state legislature makes these laws and the District Attorneys office has a bail schedule to follow. To say that bail bondsmen nationwide are responsible for determining who gets out of jail and who does not is so incredibly incredible, it’s just incredible.

    Anyway since the NPR wants to spout out ridiculousness, try this for ridiculous:

    Keep in mind here that Lubbock isn’t the kind of place you really want to go getting yourself into trouble in the first place; ask anybody from Lubbock, they don’t have a whole lot of tolerance for bad behavior there, they probably feel pretty good about their jail too.

    According to Steve the Pretrial Services Department of the CSCD is currently supervising 1700 pretrial defendants, and as he stated he should know because he is the director of the program in Lubbock. And, according to NPR the local bail bondsmen are responsible for the release of about 60 pretrial defendants daily, or 21,120 defendants per year, (give or take).

    According to The Bureau of Justice Statistics 1 out of every 100 people in the United States is in jail on average.

    According to NPR the wheels of justice move pretty slowly in Lubbock if you’re in jail. However, if you are out of jail they say it is a different story, and they give reference to several criminal defendants that had their cases disposed of within 2 weeks.

    Assuming the pretrial supervision through CSCD consists of mostly low level offenses, more misdemeanors than anything else I would expect, Steve could help us out here I’m sure, then for those who are out on some kind of bail or another the prospect of getting to court and getting things buttoned up would be, oh lets say (not 2 weeks) but about 4 months on the outside.

    Pretrial Services supervise about 1700 of these defendants, so then, if we consider the 4 month turn around period, then for grins lets just multiply that by 3 and add another 5100 defendants to our yearly average, we are averaging here somebody find Jethro or maybe get someone at NPR to help.

    That would be 21,120 pus 5100 or 26,220 criminal defendants per year in a city with a population of 250,000. If we divide that out it looks like about 1 out of every 10 people in the city of Lubbock get locked up every year or ten times the national average, divide that by the same 4 month period and it looks like Lubbock locks up about three times the national average. NPR says 2/3 of the people locked up consist of low level offenses so let’s say they only lock up twice the national average (wrongly). Now unless the NPR got some of their figures wrong it looks like fuzzy math doesn’t it? Did anybody find Jethro?

    Unless of course the same people were getting rearrested all the time, but then that would make it a little more difficult to sell this let em go stuff to anybody wouldn’t it, you know, lock em up, let em go, lock em up, let em go.

    Why lock em up at all?

    So a Walmart is missing a few TV’s, and who cares if a few merchants sit back and watch while their merchandise goes out the door right in front of them, and what’s wrong with a few bad checks in the cash register. Oh I know maybe since NPR has all this expendable income they could subsidize the merchants for their losses with TAX FUNDED GRANT MONEY, and while they are at it set up a free TV’s and Blankets for all telethon to save some jail space.

    (The first to respond to my idiotic ramblings stated that though my essay was a bit disjointed, he agreed that the NPR had done a poor job of reporting the facts).

    My response:

    My essay was disjointed, I agree, and done so to show just how ridiculous it would be to give any credence to the reporting of the truth and nothing but the truth by NPR or any other reporting media when they make wide range assumptions and their research is completely void of any real investigation.

    Nothing in my essay is backed up by anything; I have no Earthly idea of how folks in Lubbock feel about their jail, or how many people they arrest each year, or how tolerant they are toward crime in their community. However, my essay makes about as much sense as theirs does when they make statements about things they have no Earthly clue about. To single out, what appears to be by their reporting a “good ol’ boy” system in a small town or if you like a “big town” in Texas and say this is how it works from coast to coast is about as far from the truth as the east is from the west, which is what they state as being factual, based on random investigation [at best], and only shows their own bias perspective, and gives credence to their own bias agenda.

    I have no problem with public broadcasting or with them receiving grants through tax dollars as long as they stick to the programs and issues that do not include taking advantage of an audience that has been provided for them by giving editorial and discussing political issues that favor liberal thinking, conservative thinking, or moderate thinking. While they may have license to report, this type of reporting is what was feared by the government and was specifically not allowed in the law as it was originally drafted for public radio broadcasting. Naturally, the day would come when they would assert their free speech rights and protest, nevertheless public funded broadcasting should stay away from politics, religion, or any other controversial topic that is controversial because others have different opinions than they do; free speech shouldn’t include tax funded propaganda, get on all the soap boxes you want as long as your doing it on your own dime. The liberal agenda has a difficult time keeping their broadcasting afloat as it is, and public broadcasting has been their springboard to view their opinions for years, the ethics of such bias should be in question and their reporting of issues should always be in question.

    If you want to be a not for profit, publicly funded entity, then politics should be taboo and when it is not, then it is just another “good ol’ boy” system that should be investigated just like the alleged “good ol’ boy” system in Lubbock. These are matters for the attorneys and judiciary whom have sworn an oath to uphold the law to investigate and find solutions.

    They give reference to a bondsman speaking with a judge to sway his bail decision, their application would seem to me to be the same thing only on a much larger tax funded scale and they did not ask the bondsman if it would be ok with him if a few of his tax dollars were spent for the purposes of trashing him. I doubt he would have given the okydoke, but it looks like he sure received it. Sounds like the pot is calling the kettle a cooking tool!

    Google has decided that China isn’t a great place to be, and I don’t care to be doing any business there either, propaganda is propaganda and sits right next to words like censorship, power, influence, corruption, and tyranny when it is being subsidized by tax dollars through government grants, there’s no way to get around that circle of money.

    Grits has his opinion and I applaud all he does, even the stuff I don’t agree with, but he isn’t funded by tax dollars.

    Oh and BTW Grits I don’t think your investigation of states and other countries that do not have commercial bail will fare well in the skip recovery category.

    The tax funded pretrial release system has more than their fair share of flaws, and what NPR has to say about them “just aint so”. They have an agenda, a Federal, State and Local government agenda, a huge one that has tons of tax dollars going their way, and part of it promotes the drug testing of all of these innocent till proven guilty defendants. Harris County Texas, (Houston) has just implemented a program where if a defendant is found with trace amounts of narcotics, a crack pipe comes to mind, then they will not be prosecuted in the District Courts for a felony any longer, they will be treated as a class c misdemeanor, if arrested at all. I have no problem with this, but why then are they spending huge amounts of tax dollars (HUGE AMOUNTS) not a couple of dollars a day like the NPR suggests to drug test presumed innocent defendants through Pretrial Services Programs, (AND THEN, IF THEY COME UP DIRTY, SENDING THEM BACK TO JAIL) when if they had the crack pipe in their hand they would be just fine. A huge part of the reason that they are no longer prosecuting these cases is because drug testing is so expensive! America is growing very tired of Big Government in a (BIG WAY) and rightfully so, they spend tax dollars in ways that don’t make sense. The liberal agenda would have us believe that big government is the only way to go, AND FREE THINKING AMERCIANS ARE NOT FALLING FOR THAT OKYDOKE.

    The Government Pretrial Release appearance ratios come in the way of smoke and mirrors and the NPR nor does anyone else have a true picture of how they operate, imagine that, an agency funded by tax dollars that provides for their own progress report in order to receive more funding, Acorn comes to mind, lets get out the vote!

    The last independent study in 2004 published by the University of Chicago, in (Illinois) where there are no bail bondsman, in their Journal of Law and Economics paints a much different picture (Google it) of how effective commercial bail bondsmen are in the U.S. and their research makes the NPR reporter and the research they have done look like a penny waiting for change, and we all know what that’s worth. Their report is specific, well researched, and unbiased. They sum it up by stating very clearly that the performance of commercial bail far outweighs all other forms of bail, including cash bonds, limited deposit bonds, personal recognizance bonds, pretrial release bonds, and emergency court ordered releases in their study.

    The NPR gives reference to 20 years ago, 20 years ago the Harris County Constables office in Houston Texas was saddled with the responsibility of going after the absconders civilly to make them pay for their Pretrial Release bonds that they forfeited and that nobody was held responsible for, except tax payers (of course), and they had a room stacked to the ceiling with paper and bunny trails just to get through it. The thought was, why are we even trying to go after them, we don’t have the man power to go out and find them, wherever they are, to arrest them for not showing up and yet we are supposed to go and collect from them? That little process of arresting someone, and releasing someone, and then trying to find that someone when they do not appear has a whole dedicated system of government that is dedicated to itself and the paper and man power generated to keep it going cost a pretty penny to tax payers with very poor results.

    I agree whole heartedly that anyone charged with a low level crime that is truly indigent, should have protection under the law; they should be able to get out of jail and they should be able to get real legal representation.

    I also feel that for the most part a review of each criminal defendant’s prior criminal record, prior appearance, and history, ties to the community, risk to the community, and nature of the offense with which they are currently being charged, and possible flight risk are being assessed by each individual judge to determine their possible release (now).

    I feel that the system would benefit if a few reasonable practices were implemented. The truth is that criminal defendants are in jail for a reason. The truth is that a huge portion of these defendants will make bail and a large portion of the ones that do not, have a variety of circumstances that surround their incarceration.

    When someone is charged with a low level offense and has not made bail within a reasonable amount of time then that should be brought to the attention of the court and revisited to determine why. If a judge finds in their review that the defendant has an extensive criminal history then it is reasonable to assume that they are not going to change their behavior and releasing them back into the community isn’t necessarily the correct measure to take. For those who have no criminal background a reasonable time frame would be 48 hours, because anyone who can get out isn’t going to sit in jail. For those who do have criminal backgrounds you still have to determine how many strikes a person gets before they are out, regardless of the nature of the offense. You can’t just throw a flower blanket on a dung pile and pretend it’s not a pile of dung, some of these criminal defendant’s aren’t going to change their behavior until they hit rock bottom, and rock bottom may not help some, but you can’t just ignore their behavior when it is reasonable to assume from an already established track record that they are coming back soon.

    I think drugs are a health issue and the illegalization of drugs promotes a huge portion of non- drug crime directly related to the illegalization of drugs, but until the government thinks so too we are going to continue fill the jails of this country.

    This piece by the NPR, and I mean that in every sense of the word, is poorly constructed, bias, overreaching and deceptive on so many levels, that it is, as I have already stated, absurd.

    Comment by Whatever — January 28, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

  7. Great discussion here. Thanks for this post. The bottom line facts show again and again that “O.R” or pretrial release has significant issues. Defendants do not have oversight and to varying, but extremely high percentages, they do not show up in court. Warrants are issued with no man-power on the public’s side to look for defendants.

    Here: is Philadelphia’s bail problems with pretrial release.

    When the Chief of Police of Santa Ana, CA spoke with local bondsman in 2008, he told the group that 95-98% of defendants return to court when out on bond compared to 25% of those who were released on their own recognizance.

    When a defendant out on bond does not show up, the bondsman is responsible to bring him or her back or pay the full bail amount to the court. The cost of bringing the defendant back, in my experience is 20-30% of the bond – meaning a loss for the bondsman. This is why bondsmen who want to stay in business learn quite a bit about the defendant, their family and the situation before posting a bond.

    In this article: you can find the benefits of the bail bond system.

    Comment by Tonya Rynerson — February 4, 2010 @ 10:09 am

  8. bail industry needs to die

    Comment by liberalgod — February 15, 2010 @ 6:39 am

    • I’m sorry you feel that way. Would you care to elaborate on why you feel so strongly about this issue?

      Comment by bailbondconfessions — February 15, 2010 @ 9:30 am

  9. Thought your posters might be interested in this post regarding pretrial release facts:

    Comment by Tonya Rynerson — March 2, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

    • Now THAT is a good article!

      Comment by bailbondconfessions — March 2, 2010 @ 5:45 pm

  10. It seems weird that people could listen to the NPR story, read this blog (or write this blog, as the case may be) and totally miss the point. The author of this blog says repeatedly that the bond system has nothing to with jail overcrowding. You are missing (lying about?) an important fact when you say this. In mates who fail to post bail are serving longer sentences than those who do post bond. That is the argument for taking bond out of the picture and going in the direction of ankle bracelets to track the ALLEGED criminal.

    I make a point of saying alleged because this blogger, who is part of a profession that leeches the system and should be outlawed, seems to think that everyone who is arrested is guilty.

    Also, the author of this screed seems to believe that it is the system’s cumbersome bureaucracy that pushes people to ‘keep their noses clean.’ I’m sorry, but are you a total idiot? Not many criminals or non-criminals spend their days fearing the bureaucracy of the local courthouse. Could you be in any less contact with reality, you buffoon?

    Comment by Scot — April 17, 2010 @ 10:18 pm

  11. Scot, let me see if I have this correct:

    You say we are missing the point of the reporter’s story and that instead the real point is that inmates that fail to post bail serve longer sentences than those that do post bond.

    Then you go on to say that I feel everyone accused of the crime is guilty of the crime.

    Finally, you say that I believe it is bureaucracy that keeps people out of trouble.

    I’ll attempt to counter your “arguments” without resorting to personal attacks and childish name calling. On the first point, I continue to believe that the reporter’s hypothesis was centered around the issue of jail overcrowding. Yes, for a brief moment she did discuss the sociological aspect that defendants that are bonded out spend less time in jail. But that shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone. Heck, I’m sure if you did a study, you would find that defendants with private attorneys get lighter sentences and serve less time than defendants with public defenders. Why issues like this may come as a surprise to you makes no sense to me. In any case, the bulk of her story revolved around jail overcrowding with a major secondary point regarding the costs of maintaining jail/prison populations.

    On your second point, I’ll admit that it is possible that I may have a bias in my writing to believe that a great many of the people accused of crimes actually did commit them. If I do, I will say that it is born out of my own personal experiences in the industry and thus may be affected by a variety of factors, not the least of which being sample size. Having said that, I do still believe in the concept of being innocent until PROVEN guilty. The problem is that so many of my clients and the people calling me for my services are repeat offenders who have been convicted at least once before of a crime. So even if they are innocent of the current crime, it does not mean that they are not criminals or have been at some point in their life.

    Finally, I ask you to quote me the direct passages in which you claim I say it is the bureaucracy that keeps people honest. It sounds just as silly with me typing it here as when you typed it and I have no recollection of making such a claim unless it was said in sarcasm.

    Never in my personal or my professional life can I recall every saying such a thing and claiming it to be valid. I do believe that the bureaucracy is a pain in the ass, but I do not believe it is the sole deterrent in preventing the common citizen from turning to a life of crime.

    There. See? I didn’t have to resort to calling you names, insulting your intelligence, accusing you of dishonesty, or stomping all over your chosen profession.


    Comment by bailbondconfessions — April 17, 2010 @ 11:24 pm

  12. I agree that it sounded silly when you said:

    “Let me make one additional point. The system sucks. It is cumbersome, bureaucratic, and wasteful. It takes people and churns them up and wears away at their will to defend themselves. But you know what? We should want it that way. The thought of having to deal with all of this crap if you get yourself in trouble should be more than enough encouragement to the average citizen to keep their nose clean.”

    Unless your referencing some ‘crap’ that you left out of this paragraph, you are saying that the cumbersome, bureaucratic nature of the system will ‘encourage the average citizen to keep their nose clean.’

    Anyway, apologize for the name calling, but your leaps of logic are far beyond those made by NPR. I’m not complaining that you have a bias; that’s to be expected and no one would ask you to be objective, but logical arguments would be appreciated.

    Comment by Scot — April 18, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

    • Scot,

      I think the key to the paragraph you quoted is in the last sentence: “The thought of having to deal with all of this crap if you get yourself in trouble should be more than enough encouragement to the average citizen to keep their nose clean.”

      I stand by this statement. “It should be more than enough encouragement”. The operant phrase is “It should be”, though I did not state it clearly, I do not believe that Society views it this way. I assumed that the reader would know that, so I apologize for any confusion.

      As for the leaps of logic, those may be further instances of assumptions on my part. I don’t always tie my arguments together in a cohesive (Step A leads to Step B which leads to Step C) pattern. Part of that is because I do a poor part of editing my writing and part of it is because blog writing, at least for me, tends to be more off the cuff and stream of thought than detailed analysis suitable for investigative journalism.

      The purpose of my blog is to document my experiences in this business and try and change the poor reputation that my industry (deservedly) has earned for itself. For See my most current entry for an example of that:


      Comment by bailbondconfessions — April 18, 2010 @ 10:38 pm

  13. I have a prespective of the lubbock county jail from an inside view so to speak. As today august 31 2010 my gidlrfriend is in lubbock county jail. today I called her court apointed lawyer and this is what he told me. Depending on what a person is in jail for it can take up to 4 weeks to get a court date, and depending on the crime they (the court) can drag it out longer, and even then it is only when the judge orders the 2 sides to meet and try to hash out a deal does anything happen. So even if they can get out on bail it will still take weeks or even months before a bail ammount can be set. So to back stop this blogs author and slap the NPR “reporter” it is in no way the bondsman that keeps people in jail. Shit the county make more money keeping them in rather than getting them out. So what does that mean to my girlffriend, she may not see the judge untill the end of september or the first of october. And all this over a bad check, well ok a probation violation on that charge, but in this case when the facts come out in court or the judge hears what happened to cause her to fail a probation meeting (there is proof of her account 911 tapes and other supporting documents) she might get off. However in the case there is a bond ammount set you can damn well believe I will make it and thats if, she might get time served(me and her court apointed lawyer are going to try to work that angle also yes I have talked to him). I have no problem with what a bondsman does and I bet neither do all the other people that use them.

    Comment by Bill — September 1, 2010 @ 1:07 am

    • Best of luck to you and your girlfriend! Please keep us updated.


      Comment by bailbondconfessions — September 3, 2010 @ 12:25 am

  14. I’ve had to deal with a bail bond agency times. Back in by high flying youth.
    Both were funny transgressions now that I look back. But the bondsman showed concern, respect and professionalism. Real straight up people. They didn’t judge or look down, they talked to me the same way they talked to everyone else.

    I really respect them.

    Comment by Anonymous — August 7, 2012 @ 2:33 am

  15. Overpopulation, underfunded administrative teams, and corruption have lead to an innefficient system of justice. Merely interacting with or being accused can ruin one’s life. Resorting to post-jail lawsuits isn’t the answer. Fixing it from tne start is the only right way. This means speeding up process, which means both reducing jail populations and providing simpler yet effective punishments, exhonorations,assurances, and rehab for those involved. The bondsman system when applied to managable situations is much too costly, and steps to eliminate its use except when absolutely necessary should (in my opinion) be taken.

    I like to respond to your commentary.

    “First, the reporter focuses on a few individuals in three different jurisdictions and then uses their experiences to paint a picture across the whole nation.”

    Not quite. The reporter points out a class. This is not to condemn all bail systems, but instead is to point out a common flaw. This common flaw results in a large sum of taxpayer loss.

    “Next, she conveniently ignores the fact that judges set bail and the conditions for bail. Bondsman have absolutely no control over this”

    This is simply incorrect, please review Part 1. Not only is it covered, but the point is made that some judges seem to set bail amounts with only the surety bonds option in mind, therefore increasing them 10 fold.

    “Then, she ignores four other jurisdictions that ban the use of commercial bail bondsman (Oregon, Kentucky, Illinois, and Wisconsin) rather than comparing the experiences of defendants in those systems to those in the rest of the nation or even just in Lubbock, Broward, and NYC where she focuses.”

    While it is covered that those free more often receive probation (in those cities) you are correct. This is because a) failure to appear doesn’t result in monetary loss, one theme in the article, and b) freedom in no way restricts a person’s ability to prepare a defense or prove themselves to the community, the other theme.

    “She also tries to tie the entire country together under the umbrella of flawed system, though clearly every state regulates their bail industry differently.”

    3 are pointed out, and the effort to prevent Pretrial release systems in other states is then presented. While some (not all) bondsman fail to make good on large debts, and the jail system costs taxpayers substantially more than PTR, the author is pointing out that funding PTR systems a) cost the taxpayer less, b) result in less debt management, c) shrink prison populations, and d) free the nonviolent, something most Americans agree with. The point of this system isn’t to keep bondsman in business, it’s to punish and return folks to society.

    “Finally, and most importantly, she tries to make the point that poor people who can’t afford bail and that are not accused of major crimes are suffering here and they should be let ‘free’ under PTI.”

    Bail is supposed to be preportional to the offender. Plain and simple.

    “Bail is not a punishment nor is it an assumption of guilt.  It is just a tool that the courts can use to ensure that a defendant will show up to court.”

    At judges’ and prosecutors’ own admission in Part 1, this is not how it’s actually working. Using money to ensure appearance for those who have none is pointless. Other arrangements are not only warranted, but explicitly allowed in law.

    “PTI is really no different than a bail bondsman.  Both systems provide a check and balance function to ensure that individuals accused of a crime show up for court.  The main difference is in how they are funded.  PTI is funded by tax payer money.  Bail Bondsman are paid by the Defendants and/or their family.”

    But jail is taxpayer funded. When someone can’t make bondsman rates, we get stuck with that bill. When they run, many times we still cannot collect. This means the idustry as a whole is failing to be worth the cost, and it would have been cheaper to bond them ourselves. Thus PTR. We get cheaper rates and the accountability back.

    Comment by festercluck — March 16, 2013 @ 10:43 pm

  16. I would like to stress one point, if you are arrested at night, there is a bail schedule. Police officers are free to place whatever bail they want to on any individual according to how they read and interpret the bail schedule. From my experience, bail is usually ALWAYS excessive, making a bail bondsmen necessary.

    Comment by Kara Barton — October 10, 2014 @ 2:56 pm

  17. Good post. At least the reporter should have done some more research on the bail industry. Even the stories sound pretty sketchy. For example, I cannot even comprehend how a $30 theft can be considered a felony. I can’t think of any jurisdiction that can justify that. Probably more to the story than that. Also, the four states that outlawed commercial bail are going down the tubes as far a defendants failing to appear for court. Additionally, the district attorney that claimed that most bail jumpers are caught by police is way off on his information. The majority are apprehended by bondsman, as it should be. The police are too busy as it is, they don’t have the resources to search for jumpers. Some do get caught for having the warrants, but it’s more the exception than the rule.

    What happened to reporters actually researching a subject? Of course there will be bias on both sides, but at least make an attempt..

    Comment by Jeff Penrod — November 6, 2014 @ 2:44 pm

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