Sunday, June 11, 2017

Bail Agents, This Should Worry You


Bail agents, if the insurance companies were making any progress, you'd see independent opinion pieces popping up all over America with varying views about bail reform. You wouldn't be able to even keep track of them, and they'd be coming from a variety of big, important groups or people who have legitimate opinions about bail. That's what I see every day -- and I can honestly say that I can't keep track of any of it.

But what do you get? Opinion pieces written and likely paid for by ABC and the insurance-infested PBUS.

The latest example is, "Bail Keeps Criminals Away from the Rest of Us," an opinion piece posted by ABC and PBUS the other day. How do I know this piece is just a shill piece for the insurance companies? Because the dude who wrote it doesn't know anything about bail and keeps talking about all the stuff the insurance companies are peddling.

Let's start with the title. You do know that when bail keeps criminals away from the rest of us, that's actually "no bail," right? Bail that is designed to keep criminals from the rest of us is unconstitutional. This legal lesson is lost on the insurance companies, though, and they keep trying to force people to think that somehow they have something to do with public safety. But the author doesn't know that -- he writes what they tell him.

Next the author tries a history lesson, saying that "prior to the advent of bail, suspects were held until their trial date." Wrong. With a capital W. Bail has always been release. Even the predecessors to bail -- before the Normans, before jails even, were based on release. I honestly don't know what this guy is talking about, but you should know that the insurance companies' attempt to write a competing history of bail has failed already. Really, man, I'd like to see a cite for this one.

Then there's the language. Only bail insurance companies say "get out of jail free," "social justice warriors," and "algorithm regime."

Then there's what the author cites to. Jefferson County Colorado is a favorite of bail insurance companies because that's where I came from. You only have to know two things about Jeffco. They got rid of money bail for 14 weeks, and everything went well. After that pilot, they went back to using money bail and everything sucked. By the way, it was the insurance companies coming out to Jeffco and attacking me personally that ultimately led me to do what I do now full time. Do you think that coming after me back then was a good strategy? Think about that every time they make personal attacks, and be sure to give a big thanks to ABC for getting me started and to PBUS for keeping me going.

He also cites to a study by Helland and Tabarrok, which has been discredited by the very agency that provided the data for that study to begin with. But the point is, nobody cites to those guys on their own -- they do it only when it's part of the insurance company script.

Then there's New Jersey.

And finally, there's the fact that the entire piece does exactly what ABC and PBUS do best -- fight and argue for the status quo without any ideas to help jurisdictions that are actually trying to change. "It isn't perfect," the author says, "but it beats the alternative." That argument is worthless and failing as we speak.

All of this should worry you, bail agents, because ABC and PBUS have to provide all of the crap for people to say. It may look like someone has put a bit of independent thought into this opinion piece, but that's just not true. ABC and PBUS don't have any people talking about keeping the money bail system in place on their own, and so ABC and PBUS have to actually manufacture people's opinions.

Like I said, I can't even keep track of all the people across America writing about changing "bail" and "no bail." I don't have to tell anyone what to say. They just say it. What do the bail insurance companies do? They use shills.

And because using a shill is a weasel move, I use the weasel pic.






Thursday, June 8, 2017

PBUS Definitely Won't Publish This!

Wow, that worked well.

I posted my blog about the Harris County case, PBUS read it, posted its own blog, and then said I was wrong when I predicted PBUS wouldn't talk about it.

So all I have to do is taunt PBUS, and they'll print whatever I want their bail agents to see?

Excellent. Let's try it again, but this time let's give the bail agents something a little meatier.

1. The Harris County loss is indicative of the entire insurance company strategy. ABC and the insurance-infested PBUS intend to fight literally everything -- yes, all the way to the Supreme Court -- and they're willing to take bail agents down while they do it. I've written tons of times about how this strategy only works for the bail insurance companies, and it inevitably dooms agents.

2. New Jersey is a prime example. Money bail is gone. Bail agents are gone. There's no going back. Why? Because the insurance companies fought literally everything. Now, even though money is still there, and even though judges could set surety bonds, they don't. All those stories about NJ being a failure? That's an ex-bondsman and a disgruntled insurance blogger making up stories to keep agents hoping that what happened in NJ won't happen to them. If defendants are really dangerous, NJ has a way to detain them without money. Money bail is done there.

3. NM is another prime example, I haven't read them completely yet, but I see a definite slant against commercial surety bonds there. Why? Because the insurance companies fought everything. And guess what? Even if you survive there for a little while, another Harris County-type case will force NM to stop using money altogether.

4. The insurance company strategy could have been to help states through this generation of bail reform. Instead, they have only fought every effort to improve without providing any answer of their own. Because of that, they're eliminating their own industry.

5. The bail agents only hope is to break free from the insurance companies. Hire their own person who can see past the "fight everything" mentality and help the states move through this generation of reform. If they do, then people who are bail agents today may (and I mean "may," because the longer they wait, the worse it gets -- it may already be too late) have some future in pretrial release and detention.

6. By the way, that future doesn't mean just adding GPS or drug testing services to a traditional money bond. It's more than that, and if you don't know what I'm talking about by now, I'm not sure there's much hope.

7. Finally, despite what PBUS and ABC say, this is not a partisan movement. You may see some small wins due to politics, just as you did before, but mostly this thing is bipartisan and inevitable.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

This Won't Be on the PBUS Facebook Page (or maybe it will!)

For those of you who only get your bail related information from the insurance company Facebook pages, here's a bit of news: the 5th Circuit and Justice Clarence Thomas just denied Harris County's motion for emergency stay of the preliminary injunction.

When this lawsuit was first filed, the County claimed that people were in jail because they wanted to be in jail (that's an insurance company argument, by the way). Well, I guess we'll see. Maybe all those defendants will say they don't want to leave the jail when the Sheriff starts letting them out.

When I first wrote this I forgot about the spin factor. So PBUS and others will write about it, but they'll eventually start what I call the New Jersey spin: these defendants used to want to stay in jail -- now, they'll say, they're obviously too dangerous to release. That was their argument for the stay.

Bottom line, though, is that this is the beginning of the end.



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Bail Insurance Response to ACLU/Color of Change Report


I just read the bail insurance companies' first response to the ACLU/Color of Change report that shines a big light on those companies. The response is schizophrenic, as usual, declaring that bail insurance companies are white knights by letting everyone out of jail while, at the same time, bemoaning the fact that bail reform is letting everyone out of jail. I mean, which is it, dude? Do you even believe in bail? Are they defendants or criminals? Do you even know what I'm talking about?

This is just further proof that the insurance industry doesn't understand criminal justice, bail, or constitutional law.

But this particular comment in the response caught my eye: "I actually have to get back to my real job, which isn't funded by taxpayers, but rather by customers who pay us money for providing an important service to the community. Yes, that is called commerce. It occurs when someone creates value through a service or product that people are willing to pay for."

Man, you'd think this guy was selling sandwiches. Commerce? Do you think bail is like other forms of commerce, where manufacturers create a product that people actually want to buy, and with market forces of supply and demand determining the viability of the product? I don't think so, which is why the bail insurance companies are hell bent on forcing jurisdictions to keep money bail so that they can force the demand.

If bail was like commerce, it would be more like a guy selling umbrellas on the street. If it never rained, he'd go out of the business of selling umbrellas and find something different to sell. But if that guy acted like the bail insurance companies, he'd go to state legislatures and get them to make it a law to force people to buy umbrellas even if it never rained. Two on Tuesdays. That's hardly creating a product or service people are willing to pay for. today, all over America, people are voluntarily becoming unwilling to use the bail insurance product, but the bail insurance companies want to force it on them anyway. That's the opposite of commerce.

So his job isn't what I'd call a real job, unless forcing other people (including bail agents) to keep you fat and happy is your idea of real, or a job. You realize, don't you, that in that ACLU/Color of Change report the insurance companies were bragging that they never paid out on any claims? What kind of a service are you providing when you force everyone else to provide the service for you?

Okay, so bail insurance companies don't understand bail, they don't understand the constitution, and they don't understand basic fundamentals of a market economy. And you bail agents are following their lead for what reason again?

Friday, May 12, 2017

ACLU/Color of Change Report on Bail Insurance Companies

We interrupt this blog that rips on bail insurance companies to provide this link to a new report ripping on bail insurance companies. It isn't hard to do -- once you can get past the cloak of secrecy that's a hallmark of all nasty businesses. But this report is great, and the beginning of the end of bail insurance activity in criminal justice.

Some of the highlights -- eliminate the bail industry, and until then investigate and better regulate the companies behind it. And, get this, a plea for some of the larger corporations to act ethically by cutting all ties to the bail industry.

As usual, it's the insurance companies that are causing all the chaos. Bail agents, you gotta cut loose!

Happy reading!


ABC -- We'll Take Harris County Case "All the Way to the Supreme Court"

Bail agents, you better hope they don't, because I really hope they do.

This batch of lawyers failed miserably in the district court. Do you think they'll somehow get any better between now and an appeal, given that they don't really understand bail?

If they take the wrong case to the Supreme Court and lose, it's the end of money bail in America in one single case.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Who's running this strategy of yours?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bail Insurance Company “Experts” in Harris County


In my last blog, I showed how the bail insurance companies didn’t even know what the word “bail” meant. That’s a big deal – the amicus in which they screwed up in Houston was written for the case in Georgia by some big shot appellate lawyer. They paid him big money – so they got a big mistake.

Now let’s see how the bail insurance companies fared with their “expert” witnesses in Harris County. They had two. The first is pretty easy to dismiss. The court found that even though he might have known a bit about the history of the Harris County Court back when he worked there, he’d been retired for six years and so his testimony was given “substantially less weight” than contradictory testimony.

The second “expert” really requires a bit of an explanation, but I’ll save that explanation just in case the bail insurance dudes decide (unwisely) to use him again. Suffice it to say that this second guy is a bail insurance lackey (he’s been one since 2010) apparently with an incredible bias toward making sure those companies look good at any cost. But don’t trust me – just read what the court said about him. As you do, remember that when we legal types say something “isn’t credible,” it means we don’t believe it.

“His method for arriving at that number is not clear . . . [therefore, the other expert’s] calculation . . . is the more reliable figure.”

“[His] criticism is not credible . . . [and is] particularly weak given his own analytical shortcomings in studying Harris County’s data.”

“The defendants dispute these numbers, but their expert . . . provided no alternative figures.”

“The defendant’s expert . . . attempted a different method of counting. His study is critically flawed in at least two ways.”

“An even more basic flaw in [his] study was his exclusion of all misdemeanor defendants who had ‘moderate’ or ‘high’ risk scores from the population he considered. In sum, [he] excluded indigent defendants from his survey to conclude that, of the misdemeanor defendants surveyed, none was detained because of indigence. [This] conclusion is not entitled to any weight.”

“These critical flaws undermine his credibility and diminishes the court’s confidence in the reliability of the opinions he expressed, whether deriving from his own research or criticizing the analytic methods and conclusions of others.”

Ouch.

“[His] attempt to salvage his report is not successful.”  

“[His] decision to disaggregate his findings by gender and provide no overall failure rates is puzzling, to say the least. His decision to disaggregate his findings had the effect of inflating the slight difference in failure rates . . . and made it appear greater than the overall rate of failure, which [he] did not provide.”

“His [Dallas Study] is entitled to substantially less weight than the published, peer-reviewed articles in the record.”

Wow. Enough already. Do you get it? He doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he talks about other research, and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he’s talking about his own research. And that stuff about inflating the rates? That’s his incredible bias to try to find some conclusion that supports the insurance companies.

I can’t blame this so-called expert for falling under the spell of the bail insurance companies. They offer people boatloads of money and fame – a weird kind of bail fame that comes from having your work immediately thrust into the national spotlight. Other people fall for that, too.  The problem is that now that he’s been ridiculed in court, the bail insurance companies will just go hunt for some other patsy willing to say anything for all that money and bail fame.  

Once again, bail agents, you need to unshackle yourselves from the bail insurance companies. Yeah, they got the county to appeal, but that’s just to buy time to settle. The appeal on this single motion (this is not the trial – it’s just an incredibly huge motion hearing before the trial) will cost a ton more money in just legal fees, and then, even if they win, they’ll just end up in trial with the same judge, the same evidence, and the same expert.

You bail agents in America have to consider removing that word “agent” from your title. You’ve got to find someone who understands how the insurance companies’ protracted “fight everything” strategy won’t work – especially when what they did in Harris County is the best they can do. When you find that person, tell him or her that you want to remain in business, but that you know that might mean changing your business practices. The insurance companies are on their way out in American bail. Your choice is between letting them go down on their own, or letting them take you down with them.