Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The American Bail Coalition Conference Agenda

Okay, now I understand the ABC strategy. I knew the bail insurance companies were on their heels – there’s just too much stuff happening all over the country for them to keep up. For a while I figured they’d just spend another million and hire 3 or 4 more lobbyists. But I see now that they expect you bail agents to do their heavy lifting.

ABC is holding their first ever affiliate conference, and it’s clear from the agenda that they’re sticking to their whole “fight everything” doctrine. “Yes,” ABC says, “the whole country is wrong, and it’s just that the right message isn’t being delivered. The sheriffs are wrong. The judges are wrong. The prosecutors and defense attorneys are wrong. The municipal, county, and state governments are wrong. The federal courts are wrong, too. So it’s just a matter of changing everyone’s mind. And we can do that by convincing everyone that they’re wrong!” Great strategy, huh? I mean, they’re even going to “debunk” certain fundamental premises, like the fact that we have a problem with bail to begin with. Folks, ABC already tried that strategy 10 years ago when we first got started. It didn’t work. Man, it really didn’t work.

But then I see that ABC expects all you bail agents to sign up for a panel and write up data and anecdotes so that you can help with the fight. ABC doesn’t even know what to say anymore, and so they need you to say it. Oh, they’ll give the standard arguments they’ve been peddling around the country, but remember what I said last week – those arguments aren’t working.

This is your chance to ask these ABC folks a few questions. What are they doing besides fighting everyone to ensure the industry continues to exist? Do they have any kind of strategy if money goes away? What happened in Santa Clara when both the current and past ABC head couldn’t even stop a county from changing? What happened in New Mexico, New Jersey, Arizona, Alaska, Utah, and Missouri? What are they doing in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, Kansas, California, and Massachusetts? What is ABC doing about the MacArthur Initiative? What about the Three Days Count Initiative or the Smart Pretrial Initiative? What are they doing about the Evidence-Based Decision Making Initiative? They’ll talk to you about the Equal Justice Under Law lawsuits (they’re fighting them, as usual), but will they mention the other four or five national organizations planning similar national litigation strategies? Do they have a plan for the Chief Justices in America, who have mostly decided to move away from a secured money bail system? What about DOJ? Do they even have any clue as to how to “fight” the DOJ?

And just today, Harvard Law School released, “Moving Beyond Money: A Primer on Bail Reform.” Did ABC even know about that, or what any other big-time law schools or universities are doing?

My bet is that ABC doesn’t even know about a quarter of these things. And I have twenty more that I can list. Instead, ABC’s specialty appears to be going on conservative talk radio stations of 1,000 watts or less. That’s why they need you to provide “anecdotes” so they can create a “bail data” document.  While you’re there, you might ask them what’s wrong with the last sentence I just wrote.

Mostly, though, I think ABC just wants a chance to try to justify itself. But if it doesn’t have a plan for how you fit into the new world of pretrial release and detention – a world that likely doesn’t involve those really high bail amounts – then they’re just killing time until your businesses all die off.

Bail agents, the bail insurance company strategy is to get you to do their fighting for them.  It’s the only way they can keep up with bail reform and not have to pay for more lobbyists with money from their own pockets. But you should seriously consider whether the strategy of fighting everything all the time is the right strategy for you. After all, it hasn’t worked so far.