Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bail Reform: Time to Face the Truth?

An insurance company lobbyist recently wrote he was frustrated that a California bail reform bill was moving forward. He listed all the reasons why he thought it shouldn't have passed out of Committee. The problem? The problem is that in a blog that included the word "truth" in it, most of his reasons were false. I'm only going to mention one example, but realize the when the insurance companies do this even once, they lose all credibility with the rest of the system.

This lobbyist said that one reason the bill shouldn't have been voted out was because the Committee had received a letter from people in Jefferson County, Colorado (my county), saying that they tried bail reform and then decided it didn't work. ABC got that letter written mostly to do something that would make me look bad. But that isn't the real problem. The real problem is that everything in the letter was wrong and misleading. So wrong and misleading, in fact, that a judge in Jefferson County -- indeed, the judge tasked with making changes to the system both in Jefferson County and statewide -- wrote a declaration refuting the letter. What did she write? Basically, that the people who wrote the letter  weren't even there when we worked on bail, didn't know what they were talking about, and were flat out wrong and misleading about their conclusions.

So, when the insurance companies passed it out in Maryland, we sent the declaration and Maryland ignored the letter. When they passed it out in Harris County, we sent the declaration, and, well, you know what happened there. So in California, I can only assume that the people weren't fooled by that letter either. I personally sent the declaration to a variety of people in California. And I'm sending it everywhere else.

So the message from this one single thing to the people in California and elsewhere is this: the insurance companies are lying to us. Bang. Credibility shot, and bill moves on because, well, "If they lied to us about this . . .  "

I could go through the rest of the reasons this particular lobbyist listed -- like New Jersey, Cathy Lanier, and people who oppose it, but you'd just see the same pattern. The fact is that the bill is moving forward not because the California reps aren't representing the people. It's moving forward because the bail insurance companies lie like rugs.

Now it could be that this particular bail insurance dude simply didn't realize the truth because ABC lied to him, too. It makes sense because it's the insurance companies that pay ABC to exist. But probably not. I think their strategy is to win at any cost. It's scorched earth, and in the end scorched earth burns everyone, including bail agents.

Do you wonder why, in places like DC, New Jersey, and NM, they leave money and commercial sureties in the law but judges simply stop using them? That's the consequence of all those lies.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Yesterday Was Interesting

Here is an opinion piece in the New York Times from Senator Kamala Harris and Senator Rand Paul about eliminating money bail. Oh yeah, they also introduced a bipartisan bill. 

Rand Paul? Isn't he, like, one of the most conservative people we know? Yep, that's because, at it's core, being conservative means following the constitution, both federal (as in Equal Protection and Due Process), and state (as in those things plus any particular right to bail provision). And bail reform is mostly all about forcing people to follow the state and federal constitutions. 

To you bail agents who fully believe in what you are doing, then you should rejoice that we are slowly forcing government actors to follow the law. To those of you insurance groups, like ABC and PBUS, who want to spin this movement into a political one, then this ought to be a bit confounding. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Join PBUS?

So some insurance dude is trying to get people to join PBUS. Makes sense. He wouldn't make any money at all if bail agents didn't do all the work for him. That obviously extends to groups like PBUS.

My advice is simple, and completely different. Bail agents, you need to break free from ABC and the insurance-infested PBUS before it's too late. Their strategy -- to fight bail reform -- is not the strategy that keeps you in business.

Ever since I first started looking into it 10 years ago, I realized that bail reform was inevitable. INEVITABLE. Get it? It was always going to happen. And now it's happening, and all the insurance people can do is fight. That won't work. If you've read even a fraction of my posts, if you've ever read any of my papers, you'd know why.

I know virtually everything ABC and PBUS are doing. I'm not kidding -- people tell me everything for some reason. And everything they're doing -- from sniveling around DOJ and filing weird class action lawsuits to hiring a PR firm and fabricating news stories for bogus websites -- simply isn't going to work. People want to change, and they need help with the changes. They don't want a fight.

There's only one thing that I identified as a "genius move" that would forestall bail reform for about 20 years, and the insurance dudes actually did sort of the opposite of that move recently (remember, I said I'd tell people what the "genius move" was if I ever saw it happen). So there's a smart strategy, but the insurance companies do the opposite.

Likewise, in the Harris County opinion, the judge had to tell ABC that it didn't even know what the word "bail" meant. So  there you have it; an incompetent group with the opposite of a smart strategy.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a video of a committee in Philadelphia ripping on an insurance guy, a bail agent, and some dude from New Jersey. At the end, one of the committee members said to the agent something like: "We're changing. Have you done anything at all to try to adapt to that change?" Another good question would have been, "Is there anything you all can do to help us change?"

Those are good questions. The answers, of course, are, "No, because the insurance dudes said I should fight everything."

Join PBUS? No way.

Monday, July 10, 2017

History of Bail

People have been citing to our History of Bail paper that's contained on the PJI website. That's okay, but that document was just designed to give an overview of the history, which was needed back in about 2010.

If you need to know bail's history in a bit more detail for any reason (or for some better reflection concerning historical trends and what they mean), but especially if you're writing a court opinion or brief or something, look at the history sections in my Fundamental's paper, my Money paper, and my Model Bail Laws paper, which are all on my website.

The history of bail shows that "bail" equals release, that "no bail" equals detention, and that if anything interferes with these two notions, bail reform happens. Secured money bonds interfere with both bail as release and no bail as detention. That's why I started telling people in about 2007 that bail reform in America was inevitable.

Monday, July 3, 2017

NCSC Trends in State Courts

Here's a link to the National Center for State Courts' Trends Magazine, the publication put out once a year to educate courts and judges across America about big things affecting the judiciary.

As noted by it's website, "NCSC is the organization courts turn to for authoritative knowledge and information, because its efforts are directed by the Conference of Chief Justices, the Conference of State Court Administrators, and other associations of judicial leaders."  

My article on the inevitability of bail reform focuses on how judges are more involved now than in any previous generation of reform.

You'll note that there are no articles written by bail insurance companies -- rather than to help courts with what's happening, they've decided mostly to fight them.