Friday, November 25, 2016

Ahh, Life Experience

PBUS recently posted a letter to the editor from a retired judge with the caption, "When your life experience includes decades as a judge, court administrator, and lawyer, you understand the purpose of secured bail."

I read that letter and realized, once again, why we need certain judges simply to retire to get bail reform done in America. In fact, the only thing clear from this judge's letter (and his vast experience) is that he participated fully in the very thing America so desperately wants to reform today. He was part of the problem. Maybe even a big part, which is probably why he felt the need to justify his many years of accepting money bail in a letter.

I know a lot of other judges, judges like Eric Washington, Charles Daniels, Truman Morrison, Scott Bales, and many more, who quickly spotted the inherent unfairness in the money bail system. They are helping to lead this generation of reform, and, in the end, they will create a safe, fair, and effective pretrial justice system in America.

This quote is probably wrong, but I think Alan Dershowitz once said that often a person's 20 years of experience involves one year of doing it wrong, and nineteen years of repeating the mistakes.

Man, that Alan D is one smart dude.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

If I Were a Lobbyist for the Bail Agents

If I were a lobbyist for the insurance companies, I’d do exactly what ABC is doing. I’d fight everything, because every alternative but the status quo means the insurance companies lose money. If I were the lobbyist for the bail agents, though, I’d be helping them say to various officials, “Hey, we helped America with pretrial release back in the late 1800s, and we can help now. It may mean that we have to change a few things, but we’re willing to do it.”

If you keep arguing to keep the status quo, pretty soon people will shine a light on it, and you’ll end up with a story like this. And, frankly, there’s a bad news story like this waiting to be told in every state. It’s just a matter of looking for it. 

You’re watching your businesses die, but it’s only because the people running the overall strategy are insurance companies and short-sighted bail bond companies like the one in the article.  

Thursday, November 3, 2016

If, In Fact, ABC Has Its Conference . . .

If, in fact, ABC has its inaugural affiliate conference this month, it will undoubtedly trumpet its memo on California law, its white paper on Maryland law, and its ghostwritten memo signed by one very lonely Illinois judge. I doubt, however, that ABC will mention the Chief Justice of California’s proposed study on money bail, a similar white paper written by Eric Holder about Maryland, or my memo countering that very lonely Illinois judge. This merely follows what ABC has done in the past, which is to conveniently only mention the very few things it thinks are a success and leave everything else out.

Those successes, though, are very few indeed, and yet the massive effort to achieve them is basically being paid by you bail agents. The new tactic over at ABC appears to be enlisting the help of other lobbyists around the country to essentially argue the status quo – you know, those “fight everything” arguments that have gotten you so far. But, you know, someone has to pay for them, and I believe that would be you, bail agents. On the other hand, a lot of people working on reforming the status quo are doing it for free. I know I wrote my piece for free, I’m pretty sure Eric Holder didn’t charge anyone for his most recent memo, and the Chief Justice of California isn’t likely to take a bit of money to argue anyone’s position, either. Let’s face it – it’s like a bunch of mercenaries fighting against people who think it’s a holy war. Who do you think will win?

So you’re paying for everything that ABC is doing, but it’s only telling you about a piece of what’s happening out there.  Moreover, ABC has absolutely no intention of pulling back this fight to actually help jurisdictions figure out how to include private supervision into the mix. That’s because private supervision, just like public supervision, means the bail insurance companies will be out of the picture.

So if, in fact, ABC has its conference (can you tell I think it won’t happen, or if it does, it will mostly be attended only by insurance dudes?), you should ask them how hiring more people simply to make the same faulty arguments is going to stem the tide of reform.