Friday, June 8, 2018

Wall Street Journal Article About the Bail Industry

Here are two tidbits from yesterday's Wall Street Journal article about the for-profit bail industry:

"Overall, the net premiums of bail bonds written nationwide declined for the first time last year following five consecutive yearly increases. In 2017, premiums written dropped 3.8% to $119.5 million, according to insurance-ratings firm A.M. Best."

"The A.M. Best Report shows that the total face amount of bail bonds posted in the U.S. dropped to $15.9 billion last year, a 4.4% decline from 2016 and a reversal in the trend from the previous three years." 

How's that ABC strategy of fighting everything look to you now? Are you still winning, or is something else going on? 

By the way, ABC's focus on "risk assessment" is misplaced. Risk assessment tools only replace other forms of risk assessment. Money is risk management. Other forms of risk management replace money. The insurance companies don't know what they're talking about when it comes to risk assessment, which is kinda weird given that insurance companies use actuarial risk assessment tools all the time (and when we explain this to various stakeholders, everyone laughs with that kind of "wow, how can they be so dumb" laugh). The industry has bought into a strategy by bail insurance companies that are ignorant about basic principles of bail, including the very definition of bail (see Harris County order granting preliminary injunction at footnote 20). Accordingly, I expect to see many more articles like the WSJ article in the future.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Al Jazeera Video About Bail Reform

Here's a little video about bail reform from Al Jazeera.

I've been watching posts from the bail industry for a long time, and I can tell you that there is nothing in this video that it'll like. It was a bit of a gang fight, with ABC losing due to its inability to concede certain basic facts about the money bail system. 

So . . . I assume that even though someone from ABC was on the show, ABC either won't mention anything about it, or it'll start attacking Al Jazeera and the others personally.

ABC's intentional strategy to argue and fight everything, rather than to think of solutions, is the cause of all of this. Bail agents, this is your future.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Judges/County Lose in 5th Circuit

You know, the only reason I think I keep this blog going is to occasionally tell people how things actually turn out.

ABC's Facebook page still has the big "Breaking News" banner about a bunch of judges in Harris County demanding some new injunction and the County asking for rehearing in the O'Donnell case.

Well, they lost all those motions.

You can thank me for bringing you all up to speed.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

John Legend Lends His Voice to Bail Reform

Here's a nice video titled, "The Truth About the Cash Bail Industry," narrated by big time music star John Legend.

Let me guess, ABC, now you're going to write bad things about John Legend, right?

Really? Even though he played Jesus?

Fight, fight, fight. Where has it gotten you?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Google and Facebook Banning Commercial Bail Ads

Several people emailed me to tell me about this. Yep, Google and Facebook are both banning ads from the commercial bail industry. You can read about it here.

Why is this a big deal? Well, in addition to just the fact of it, it's because of a couple of things called cognitive dissonance and backfire. Cognitive dissonance is basically the state of having inconsistent thoughts. People don't like it, and they mostly strive for consistency with their various views. To do this, they often seek information that reinforces preexisting views and ideas. This is a really powerful phenomenon; in fact, in a couple of studies a year or so ago, some researchers actually found that if you hold certain beliefs strongly enough, even objectively false statements will cause you to become even more firmly entrenched in your sometimes false views. In other words, presenting the actual facts to people holding certain false beliefs "backfires," and causes them to believe their false ideas even more strongly.

This, in my opinion, is why people in the bail industry are constantly befuddled by everything that's currently happening. Everyone in the industry has pretty firm beliefs, and so all statements -- true or false -- are likely woven into the existing narrative of why commercial bail is such a great thing. In fact, if those researchers are right, bail industry people will continue believing that money bail is a great thing, and no matter what we say they'll only believe it more firmly.

But the bigger problem for commercial bail is that the vast majority of people in the United States have absolutely no preexisting notions about bail. That's why, when you explain things to regular people, they don't necessarily like money bail. And it's why, for example, companies like Google and Facebook would immediately choose to forgo advertising revenue from the industry rather than to be a part of the money bail problem. See how it works? Now Google and Facebook have certain beliefs about money bail that they didn't have before, and presumably they'll be looking for facts to support those beliefs.

By the way, this rather dramatic showing of public disdain for the bail industry is very likely caused by the tactics of ABC, which fights everything, treats their own clients as criminals, and personally attacks and insults those who question the status quo. Oh, and when ABC says people are trying to get rid of people's right to bail, what they mean is money bail, and there's no right to money bail in America. Another part of ABC's strategy is apparently to confuse you about the law.

I'd tell you more about the law and the fact that ABC's overall strategy is failing, but cognitive dissonance and backfire tells me that you'll only take it to mean the opposite of what I say.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Bail Insurance Companies' Personal Attacks

Okay, I'd expect this from PBUS, but not from ABC. But once again, the bail insurance companies show how low they can go by posting personal attacks against various people they believe are behind this generation of bail reform.

They're trying to subtly hide them by putting all the personal attacks on a separate site and FB page, but unfortunately the address for that is the same address listed for ABC on it's main website. Make no mistake, if it's against bail reform and it's trashing someone personally who is for bail reform, it's probably the bail insurance companies that are responsible for it, no matter how many layers they use to shield themselves.

Specifically, ABC has been naming people and questioning their motives, insulting them, and even portraying them in horrible (I suppose ABC thinks they're funny) pictures. Really, has anyone ever taken a picture of a sitting justice on a state supreme court and portrayed him as the devil? Yes, the bail insurance companies have.

Early in my bail career, I named one guy publicly and quickly came to regret it. I shouldn't have named him because he was just doing his job, which just happened to include a radically different ideology than my own. In fact, at the time I named him, I didn't really even think I was doing it as a slight -- it just turned out that way later on. I named another guy privately, but he forced me to do it. Then he decided to become an expert witness for the bail insurance companies, and, well, you're just asking for trouble when you do that. I think maybe he retired.

Since then, though, I've really tried (and, believe me, it's hard) to not name actual people in this bail reform thing. I'll talk about the companies and their lobbyists, but nobody should have to walk around thinking some goofball has put their picture on the web with horns and a tail. If you know me, you know that mostly I talk about issues (feel free to read some of the papers on my website). I write all the time, and none of it is about individual people, unless you count someone like Alexis de Tocqueville. My last paper was 200 pages and all I talked about was constitutional language. Can't you insurance companies at least try to do the same thing?

I want you bail insurance people to ask yourselves a question. When you were little, and your mother asked what you wanted to do when you grew up, did you say, "I'd like to trash the personal character of anyone who gets in my way of making gobs of money?"

The other day a bail insurance dude asked, "Why don't you just ask the bondsmen?" Well, one reason is that whenever we ask people in your industry about the issues, we get personal attacks. And, bail agents, just remember that personal attacks are the sign of desperation. Argumentum ad hominem seems okay, but it never works. The fact that this logical fallacy even has a name ought to tip you off.

There's still time for you all to create a decent strategy around this thing that doesn't involve personal attacks. The fact that you make them at all, tells my you don't know what that strategy even is.

This is the sleaziest thing you've ever done, and it plays into the slow degradation of our civil discourse. For that, you get the weasel pic -- twice.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

ABC Says Bail Reform is Ebbing . . .

I say, better check out the front page of today's New York Times:

This thing is really only getting started.

And just wait until they do the deep dive into bail insurance companies!