As professionals working in the jail bond industry, we’re keeping tabs on winds of change, and the political whims in Washington and elsewhere that could affect our livelihoods.
Are there fissures in the White House regarding cash bail reform? Before winning the presidency, Joe Biden campaigned on a platform to do away with the jail bond system and promoted sweeping reforms of the judicial system. Before becoming a politician, Kamala Harris, as a district attorney, supported the cash bail system and wanted to make it even stronger. Now, as Vice President of the United States, she wants to, well, reform it. Hmm.
“One issue she has championed to reform is cash bail. As a senator, back in July 2017, Harris joined GOP Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to introduce legislation to push for changes or replacement of the cash bail system.”
A big reason Harris’ stance is being thrust into the limelight is due to the Waukesha parade tragedy, where the main suspect in the death of six people had been released on a paltry $1,000 bail during a previous and unrelated court appearance after he punched his girlfriend. After the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, Harris said the criminal justice system needed to be more “equitable” but has been silent since the parade incident.
As we’ve seen with most politicians, they tell people what they want to hear at any given moment and adjust their stance on hot button topics based on the emotions of their suporters. This should be a red warning flag for any bonding company worried about the future of cash bail.
Depending on a lot of factors – the alleged infraction, a defendant’s personal and criminal history, physical and mental health, and others – a personal recognizance (PR) bond can be dangerous to use. For some, it’s like playing a board game and receiving a virtual “get out of jail free” card. And when some do get out for free, bad things can happen.
Here in Colorado, PR bonds have become the source of considerable debate. At least two former district attorneys believe the use of such bonds has gotten out of hand and resulted in the Denver County area not being as safe as it should be.
Per a recent new post, “Since Jan. 1, 3,690 accused criminals who were facing nearly 8,000 felony charges were granted PR bonds, according to records obtained and analyzed by Denver7 Investigates. Some of those charges that resulted in PR bonds in court include aggravated sex offenses, habitual offenders of domestic violence and pimping.”
Because of criminal activity after pre-trial release, former Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey described the system as “failing.” George Brauchler, a former district attorney in Arapahoe County, was even more blunt: “It's reckless," Brauchler said. "I don't understand it. The numbers you are talking about are significant."
Why the sudden bad vibes about PR bonds in Jefferson County, Golden, and elsewhere? The news report goes on to say that “more than 100 criminals with prior felonies who were arrested for new crimes caught possessing weapons,” two were later arrested on murder charges, and 32 percent of felony cases “resulted in the defendant failing to appear for a future court appearance. Those 1,189 alleged criminals are facing 2,638 felony charges.”
This is all part-in-parcel of the greater discussion surrounding cash bail reform and why the movement may not be such a good thing.
As a bail bond agent anywhere in Colorado, you know all about bail bond types, but what about your potential clients? Let’s do a quick review of the different bail bond types in Colorado, and you could go here when someone from Lakewood asks for more information. According to the most recent legislative session, the court will decide, after considering all the evidence, what kind of bond is right for the pretrial release of someone in custody.
The Colorado Judicial Branch defines a bond as a “formal written agreement where a person agrees to do something (such as appear in court) or stop doing something (such as committing a crime). If the person doesn't comply with the agreement, he/she (or a "surety", also called a "bondsman") then forfeits the money paid for the Bond. The purpose of a Bond is to motivate the person to comply with the written agreement and to provide consequences if he/she doesn't. In most cases, a surety (bondsman) is involved, and the Bond makes the surety responsible for the consequences of the person's behavior.”