Thursday, June 30, 2016

PBUS Elected the Wrong Person

“People are not in jail because they’re poor. They’re in there because they broke the dang law.”

With that one quote in a recent Marshall Project article, the head of PBUS just proved to the world that she knows little about bail, and that she’s bought into the bail insurance company slash and burn rhetoric designed to fight literally any changes to the status quo.

Let’s get this straight, because I know deep down that bail agents care about release. When America started running out of personal sureties, it was commercial bail bondsmen and women who stepped up to help. When judges set amounts of money that were unattainable by most defendants, it was bail bondsmen and women who stepped in where even the Excessive Bail Clause could not, and tried to make sure that people could still get out of jail. Yeah, I know that states gradually started putting insurance companies in the mix (slowly turning the bondsmen and women into agents), but it was the spirit of those early bail bondsmen and women, who really cared about the right to bail, the presumption of innocence, due process, and pretrial freedom, that should be the enduring spirit of bail agents today.  

It’s the bail insurance companies that don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s the bail insurance companies that once wrote that they didn’t believe in the presumption of innocence. It’s the bail insurance companies that don’t believe in risk assessment even though they use it for every other form of insurance. And it’s the bail insurance companies that are now starting to peddle the moronic line, “the defendant is in jail because he broke the law.” Bail agents should look at this sort of statement and say, “No, this person isn’t convicted yet, and so we should all do what we can to see that he or she is released, because, after all, we live in America.” At that point, we’d disagree about how to do that, but you get what I’m saying, don’t you?

By parroting the bail insurance company line, PBUS might as well just be a shill organization for those insurance companies and ABC. And, really, those guys could care less whether you bail agents survive so long as they keep making their money.

The insurance companies could be helping you, agents, but they aren’t. You know that, and I know that because I’m a part of various projects begun in the wake of insurance company fights. The weird part is that I can actually visualize a future with bail agents taking a giant part in productive bail reform, breaking away from the insurance companies and talking about how to effectuate pretrial release and detention without the kinds of astronomical amounts that require freakin’ insurance companies to back.

But I can’t expect that from PBUS anymore. No, PBUS elected the wrong person.