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Monday, May 25, 2009

Bondsmen Upset By Policies That Free More People

Of course they are....

LOVELAND, Colo. – Budget cuts and the cost of maintaining an overcrowded jail forced Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden to begin releasing inmates accused of lesser crimes without bond. Other police agencies across the country are following suit — to the chagrin of bail bondsmen who say their livelihood is threatened.

Officials in this northern Colorado county insist they're reaping savings by placing released inmates into less-costly supervision programs that can include screening for domestic violence and mental health problems. Supporters of such pretrial programs, which are being tried from Atlanta's Fulton County to Spokane, Wash., argue that the usual practice of requiring bond for release doesn't prevent crime.

"It simply separates those who have money from those who don't," said Tim Murray, executive director of the Washington-based nonprofit Pretrial Justice Institute.

Over the years, some 300 U.S. jurisdictions have implemented pretrial programs, Murray said. While no data suggests the numbers are growing because of the bad economy, Murray said the recession could force corrections officials to rethink their jail policies.

"They're looking at their (jail) population and realizing that many of the people they're paying to house are there because they can't pay their bonds," Murray said.

In Fulton County, Ga., officials decided in April to put more people under supervision instead of jailing them.Fulton County has had a pretrial services program for more than a decade but is expanding it to include people with prior offenses or those who may be homeless.

"We, like every jurisdiction in the country, are operating under financial stresses that require us to be innovative," said county spokesman Don Plummer, who said Fulton expects to save $5.5 million a year by expanding its program.

Florida's St. Lucie County adopted its program in 2007. Nonviolent offenders who can't afford bail "take up bed space for violent people who need to be in there," said Mark Godwin, the county's criminal justice coordinator.

Washington's Spokane County also is creating a pretrial services program because of jail overcrowding, said Spokane City Attorney Howard Delaney.

In rural Larimer County, population 287,500, declining sales tax revenues cut the sheriff's share of county collections from $9.26 million in 2008 to $6.64 million this year, said Bob Keister, county budget director. Alderden cut 12 positions, including seven jail deputies, to stay within his budget of just under $41 million. He also adopted a 460-person limit at the jail, where the population routinely surpassed 500.

Alderden released 47 inmates in January and 16 more in February before their sentences were completed to meet the new cap. That decision, and ramped up pretrial services, has helped put the jail population in the low 400s, said Gary Darling, Larimer County's criminal justice planning manager.

Darling said it costs $1.93 per day to keep someone under pretrial supervision, versus $104 a day to jail them. He estimates the county can save more than $4 million a year under the new system.


Anonymous said...

There should be no bond requirement until an individual is found guilty of a crime except in violent cases, like felony one and two crimes. This is supposed to be a free country??? djw

Anonymous said...

No surprise there that bondsmen are complaining. The amount of blood money they make has always been ridiculous. This is nothing but a self-serving article and a waste of time.

Unknown said...

Obviously the first poster here is talking about something he/she knows nothing about. Bond guarantees a defendants appearance in court for all court dates up to trial. Therefore, the posters suggestion that bond not be rewuired until you are convicted nly indicates the posters ignorance.

Anonymous said...

It appears that the ignorant one is Barney, who doesnt know or probably ever read the constitution which tells us everyone is innocent until proven guilty. As for appearing, 99.9 will on there own recognicance. The small percentage that wont would jump bail anyway. Bonds are for the very serious crimes such as murder and rape, and very violent crime?? Also we all know that 50% or more in prison wouldnt be there had they had the money to hire a good attorney. Court appointed attorneys in Colorado are a joke the way its done in Colorado. They are not given the time and resources to adeqately compete with an attorney operating out of DA's office which will spend thousands on frivoulas cases to get convictions. They even use false charges. I'm not as ignorant as Barney would want you to believe and would like to debate him on the Colorado criminal justice system and there shoddy ways of applying so called justice.djw

Anonymous said...

Something in the article everyone seems to have missed is the fact it costs every man woman and child in Larimer county about 141.00 a year to run there sherriffs dept. Thats atrocious?? There spending 40 some million tax dollars ayear to run the sherriffs dept for one county that has just over 1/4 million people??? No wonder this whole country is broke. I say cut all government in 1/2. We dont need to keep throwing our dollars at bearocrats who produce nothing but mostly grief and stress for the citizens. djw

Unknown said...

Anonymous poster, you are preaching to the choir. You will get no arguement fom me about the jacked up status of our judicial system, and I am not defending the bonding system. I hate just about every facet of how our system works (or fails to work), and FYI I am very familiar with the Constitution, both of the US and Colorado. I was merely trying to point out how wrong you are about how bail bonds works. You do not post bond "after" you have been convicted of anything (violent, felony one or two crimes or DUIs, - it doesn't matter). Bond is posted for you to be release PRIOR to your being convicted or exonerated or whatever (and, "no" 99.9% do not go to court on their own recognizance - that is why there are bondsmen who find them and bring them back for court appearances). Bonding is for the period of time between being arrested and being tried. Also, the serious criminals you are addressing will very rarely ever bond out, as their bond is set intentionally high to prohibit them from being released and thus a risk either to the public or of skipping. It is intended primarily for those who are not "high risk" defendants being free during the lengthy period of time it takes to move through our overburdened court/judicial system (another screwed up process). Some cases can take up to 2 years to be heard. AFTER you have been convicted, you are not able to bond; you either go to prison, jail, or are released. The bonding system does assume you are "innocent until proven guilty", as it is an opportunity for the accused to be released and allowed to go about their lives UNTIL they are proven guilty, or not. I agree that the largest portion of those being required to post bonds should be released on their own recognizance; however, there is a viable purpose for bonds for some of the higher risk inmates. Some are higher risk of failing to appear. Others are at higher risk of being a threat to the public, if released (those are the ones whose bonds are set prohibitively high).

Anonymous said...

Wrong! My son was given a $500,000.00 bond with absolutely NO reason OR excuse from an egotistical judge. My young son was compliant and not charged with a violent crime. Half a million dollars was WAY out of line for a young man with NO prior felony, NO history of violence and NO reason/excuse for this display of drama for the court reporters and favor to 'drink and drive' Newsome. Idiots sit on the bench, and prosecutors don't give a damn as long as they win - even questionably. NO weapons charge. Go figure.

No excuse. There are very incompetent judges that are still on the bench due to political favors and pay-offs.

This was UNbelievable and obviously some macho display of self-promotion.

Obviously, many people don't realize the amount of deceit that goes on between judges and prosecutors BEFORE sentencing!

Anonymous said...

Actually the statutes do allow you to post bond after conviction. It's rare but it happens...just ask Alex Midyette. His parents had the money and the Judge allowed him to post bond while he was awaiting sentencing. Unfortunately he violated the terms of the bond and it was revoked.

Anonymous said...

(different anonymous poster)

MOST bonds are set "prohibitively high"; that's why people who intend to (and do) appear as ordered nevertheless use bail-bondsmen in the first place. Bail-bondsmen really amount to a private posse to bring back bail-skippers, paid for by all bailees who can't afford their entire bail bond, whether they intend to appear or not, and whether they are guilty or not.

I do appreciate that bail-bondsmen provide an opportunity for people who can't afford their own bond a way to remain free pending trial; but the fact that they can't afford the bond means that it was, in fact, set "prohibitively" high in the first place. Consider: who would flush that 10%-15% of the bond amount down the toilet if they intended to appear and could really afford to post the entire amount, knowing it would be fully returned later when they appear as ordered? Under this system the totally innocent are still (in effect) "fined" the 10%-15% of the bond amount in order to be allowed their constitutional right to bail.

Anonymous said...

Shady. No matter what the excuses, the U.S. courts apply unreasonable, self-serving decisions that ultimately cross the line into being UNconstitutional. There are no checks and balances among judges and prosecutors.

Pastor Martin Niemoeller: search

Anonymous said...