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The Battle Lines Have Been Drawn

Hands Pulling Rope from Opposite Sides in Game of Tug-of-War

You can change the judicial system, reform police departments, work to abolish the cash bail system, endanger the lifeblood for thousands of people employed in the bail bonds industry, but one thing remains constant – people commit crimes. Even those who’ve been given second chances (Tiffany Harris, anyone?) sometimes return to a life on the other side of the law.

Does the current cash bail system – the norm in most states across America – need to be abolished or improved incrementally?

What’s Happening in Illinois?

It looks like another domino in the cash bail debate is nearing a tipping point, this time in Illinois. If you’re a cash bail bondsman in Jefferson County, Arapahoe County, or Denver County, pay attention to what’s happening in another Democratic Governor’s office.

According to CBS, Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently announced “proposals to end cash bail, change theft and drug-crime sentencing to give criminals opportunities to escape addiction and creating more rehabilitation options to reduce long sentences.

“The ideas are among seven “guiding principles” the Democrat unveiled for negotiations with the General Assembly over criminal justice reform, an initiative announced in January and spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and pushed forward for decades by the Legislative Black Caucus.”

If this sounds reasonable, think again. What's happening here is typical liberal politics at their best. The real goal can't be masked: Do away with cash bail, but make the legislation easier to swallow by caving to left-leaning demands for softer theft and drug-crime penalties, and more rehabilitation options which make for "feel good" news but little else.

As you might expect, the thrust of the anti-cash bail crowd is the same as always: It’s a system designed to punish the poor and low-income defendants and is inherently racist. Our preference is to limit the emotional aspects of the debate and deal in facts. By doing so, we may arrive at a compromise that benefits all parties.

Chaos in California

If you type “cash bail” into any search window for Google, Bing, or any other web search, click the “News” tab. What do you see? An endless list – screen after screen – of items from legitimate and not-so-legitimate news sources reporting on the cash bail controversy throughout America.

A recent Bing search led off with dozens of news reports about California residents voting in November to approve or reject Proposal 25. At its core, the legislation will abolish cash bail in the nation’s most populous state and replace it piecemeal with measures sure to get smiles from Silicon Valley philanthropists and Hollywood elites. If you work in the bail bonding industry, you should be worried. California is our most populous state, and trends that take root there often migrate elsewhere.

Here are the top five headlines for you to review carefully:

Proposition 25 would end cash bail in California. Is the replacement any better?

“When the push to eliminate California’s cash bail system began in the state Legislature several years ago, the battle lines ...”

What to Know About Proposition 25: Ending Cash Bail in California

“In California, there is a showdown between opponents and supporters of Proposition 25, a referendum for 2018’s Senate Bill 10 ...”

CA Prop 25 Fails: Abolishing Cash Bail

“Proposition 25 is a unique ballot item: a referendum on a law passed by the legislature in 2018 to end bail in California.”

What Is Proposition 25, The Cash Bail Measure?

“Proposition 25 is a referendum on a 2018 law that replaces the cash bail system with a risk assessment process to determine ...”

The ‘Strange Bedfellows’ of Proposition 25 and California’s Fight to End Cash Bail

“A ballot measure aimed at ending cash bail in California has civil rights groups at odds over what should replace it.”

COVID-19 and Bail Bonds

The COVID-19 pandemic has unquestionably affected the prison system and the bail bonds industry. Revisions have to be implemented to not only address public and justice workers’ wellness and safety concerns, but also the future of an industry which has existed for more than 100 years but is now seen as the chief villain in what’s happening related to the cash bail controversy.

According to Johns Hopkins, more than 220,000 Americans have died in 2020 as a result of COVID-19. Of those, 1,000 deaths were among the U.S. prison population, which has seen more than 120,000 cases since the pandemic began. We harbor a certain amount of bias when it comes to the judicial system, but is softening sentencing guidelines or giving some defendants a get-out-of-jail card (especially 120,00 with confirmed COVID-19) now the best thing to do? We’ll of course defer to the medical and scientific experts, but the notion of public health sometimes appears limited.

For certain anti-cash bail groups, the pandemic, unfortunately, is a gift that keeps giving. Many of these groups are mobilizing nationwide to “help” the country navigate safely beyond COVID-19 with solutions which obviously have ulterior motives. Consider these options:

Reduce the prison population. Prisons are over-crowded to begin with, so what better way to control the spread of COVID-19 than letting people out of jail? In all likelihood, a good percentage of those 120,000 we mentioned above will carry the infection beyond prison walls.

Emergency release from prison. Not a bad idea, under certain controlled circumstances. COVID-19 is bad for the country, and bad for bail bond professionals nationwide because fewer people are getting arrested. This severely reduces the need for bond and unfortunately cuts into a bail bondsman’s livelihood.

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