The voters have spoken. You would think legislators would take notice. But no, and we are not talking about the deadly, conspiracy-driven coup attempt in our nation’s capital. This is about the “No” vote against California’s Proposition 25, and how opponents of cash bail are reorganizing in that state and marshaling anti-cash bail armadas across the country. The message in all of this is any bondsman – in Jefferson County, Arapahoe County, Denver County – should keep his or her guard up.
One of the things we advocate for is incremental adjustments to the current cash bail system. If the plumbing has a few leaks, they can likely be repaired without a costly overhaul or replacing all the pipes. Some legislators nationwide support the same approach, while still others insist on going for broke and eliminating cash bail not in one fell swoop, but over time. This, too, is a mistake.
In the state of Illinois, folks on both sides of the cash bail debate are anxiously waiting for Governor JB Pritzker to put pen to paper and sign into law sweeping legislation that would reform policing and criminal justice – and eliminate cash bail by 2023.
Perhaps the most disturbing part of the bill was reported recently in The Chicago Sun-Times: “Under the bill, criminal defendants no longer would be required to post any cash bail to be released before trial. The only exceptions would be defendants whom judges deem a risk to public safety or a risk to flee before trial.”
A coalition of law enforcement across Illinois is not happy with the bill's elimination of cash bail. In a statement, the group said, “It ties the hands of police officers while pursuing suspects and making arrests and allows criminals to run free while out on bail.”
Sadly, violence in Chicago is skyrocketing, and law enforcement there is understandably worried about new pre-trial release policies.
If you work in bail bonding and consider yourself a moral person, then it is your responsibility to discuss other alternates to bail bonds with clients. The cash bail system in the United States has a long history – nearly 200 years – and as it has evolved, so, too has our judicial system. Today, most jurisdictions nationwide may present to a defendant – given the alleged crime, the defendant’s criminal history and other factors – other options besides bail bonds. These may include:
This is sure to be a white-hot topic in 2021, and for good reason. The United States and the Philippines are the only two countries in the world with commercialized bail industries, so it stands to reason that hard-core liberals and cash bail opponents will apply maximum pressure to keep this in the news.
In California, voters articulated their displeasure at the thought of ending cash bail when they defeated that state’s Proposition 25 on November 3, 2020. It is perhaps a case of buyer’s remorse, where the public bought into the emotional side of the argument (you know, cash bail is discriminatory based on race, gender, income), but are now thinking twice given the rise in certain crimes in California in 2020, particularly in the Los Angeles area. Voters are also second-guessing themselves in New York and Illinois.
As a bondsman, you can be sure to field calls not only from potential clients about cash bail, but also the media, legislators, law enforcement, and groups both for and against ending cash bail. The best response in this case is a carefully crafted non-committal one, mostly because the popular media has crafted the idea that bail bonds professionals are illiterate attention hogs who cannot articulate a cogent thought on the topic. F-that. Do your homework regarding cash bail reform and what may happen in 2021. Start by using the sources below.
The bottom line here is to stay educated and engaged. Your future livelihood depends on it.