United Bail of America Supports Ron DeSantis for Florida Governor

DESANTIS’ COMMITMENT TO TOUGH-ON-CRIME POLICIES WILL HELP PROTECT THE BAIL INDUSTRY FROM DEVASTATING REFORM

Florida’s upcoming gubernatorial election could have a significant effect on criminal justice reform. In a Jacksonville debate last week, both Ron DeSantis (R) and Andrew Gillium (D) took strong but opposing stances on criminal justice policies. United Bail of America supports DeSantis for Florida Governor in his fight to uphold the state’s current criminal justice system and maintain its 50-year low crime rates.

Gillium said that, if elected, he’ll develop a bail reform proposal similar to the one enacted by Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey, which eliminated bail for most crimes across the state. Programs like these have had negative consequences, including increased failure to appear rates – more than 40 percent in Harris County, Texas – and threats to public safety.

New Jersey courts, acting under Governor Christie’s bail reform program, regularly release dangerous defendants on their own recognizance, including 23 of 24 child sexual predators, an arsonist, an Uber driver who was charged with distributing heroin and a man with multiple outstanding warrants who made terroristic threats. 

If bail is eliminated in Florida in favor of a pretrial program similar to the one currently used in Washington, D.C., it would cost taxpayers $2.7 billion annually.

Additionally, according to a recent public opinion poll conducted by Gottlieb Strategic Research, only 30 percent of Florida voters think the current bail system is in need of reform.

Despite these facts, Gillium promised to make bail reform a top priority among criminal justice issues.

Your vote counts on November 6. Vote to protect Florida’s criminal justice system and the bail industry from ineffective reforms. Vote for Ron DeSantis.

New Poll from United Bail of America Shows Southern Voters Oppose Bail Reform

Voters in North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida do not support current bail reform policies

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. August 22, 2018 – Today, United Bail of America (UBA) released results from a public opinion poll that shows an overwhelming lack of support for current bail reform policies across the Southeast. Voters from all political parties in North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida oppose bail reform that would require taxpayers to fund pretrial services.

“The elimination of commercial bail has been proposed across the country by politicians and activist groups, supported by dark money and billionaires,” said Don Mescia, executive director at UBA. “But, the results of this poll give us a better idea of what voters really want. Southern voters – no matter their political affiliation – don’t want to pay for criminal defendants to be released without the accountability that commercial bail offers.”

The poll was conducted to measure attitudes toward current policies and proposals related to bail reform. Major findings include:

  • 68.5 percent of Southern voters oppose the use of tax dollars to pay for the release of criminal defendants who are indigent, meaning they cannot afford to pay their own bail;

  • 56.4 percent of Southern voters oppose the use of tax dollars to pay for the release of criminal defendants who have been charged with a non-violent crime;

  • 82 percent of Southern voters oppose the use of tax dollars to pay for the release of criminal defendants who have previously failed to appear in court; and

  • Only 30.8 percent of Southern voters think the current bail system is in need of reform.

A demographic analysis of the results shows that both Democrats and Republicans oppose bail reform that would use tax dollars to pay for the release of indigent criminal defendants at 58 percent and 82.9 percent of those polled, respectively.

Democratic voters are almost split on whether or not they believe tax dollars should be used to pay for the release of criminal defendants who have been charged with a non-violent crime, with 42.8 percent supporting this type of bail reform. More than 70 percent of Republicans polled do not support the use of tax dollars to pay for the release of non-violent offenders.

Of voters polled, 77.1 percent of Democrats and 88 percent of Republicans agree that tax dollars should not be used to pay for the release of criminal defendants who have previously failed to appear for their court date.

“Typically, commercial bail is reserved for defendants who cannot be trusted to show up for court and stay out of trouble if released on their own recognizance, or have shown a pattern of criminal behavior,” said Mescia. “The results of this poll make it clear that voters agree the current bail system works.”

Bail Reform Poll Results by State

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Bail Reform Poll Results by Party

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Poll results for additional demographics, including ethnicity, income and age, are available upon request at both the national and state levels for North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana.   

METHODOLOGY
Gottlieb Strategic Research fielded the poll with the purpose of measuring attitudes toward policy and proposals related to bail reform. The smartphone-based survey was in the field for the month of June, and the margin of error for each state is:

North Carolina: N= 400 MOE = +/- 4.9%
South Carolina: N= 400 MOE = +/- 5.7%
Louisiana: N= 400 MOE = +/- 5.7%
Florida: N= 400 MOE = +/- 4.9%

 

ABOUT UNITED BAIL OF AMERICA

Serving all surety agents, United Bail of America, was created to give agents a voice in an ever-growing national discourse on criminal justice reform. We work to build national, commonsense regulations and legislation, while combating misinformation and bias in the media.

United Bail of America is a reasoned voice among critics of the commercial bail industry and strives to support our agents, state associations and national efforts to confront rhetoric with fact, while educating the wider pubic about the services of our agents and the important role commercial bail plays in the criminal justice system.

For more information, please visit www.unitedbailofamerica.org.

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California Should Beware the Consequences of SB10

The State Assembly passed legislation to eliminate cash bail despite opposition

 

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 21, 2018 --Despite opposition from former bail reform champions, the California State Assembly passed SB 10 yesterday to effectively eliminate cash bail in the state. Passed by the bare minimum of votes, SB 10 gives local courts the power to determine the conditions of a defendant’s release, so long as it is nonmonetary.

SB 10 allows local courts to create their own evaluation systems for determining who is at low, moderate or high risk of re-offending or fleeing, using that scale to release or detain a defendant before trial. Regardless of specific evaluation systems, those accused of nonviolent misdemeanors will be released within 12 hours after being booked, but defendants with recent serious or felony convictions, multiple failures to appear or allegations involving domestic violence will not qualify for release under the conditions of SB 10.  

Passed under the assumption that the bail system punishes the poor, SB 10 could actually result in increased discrimination. The bill gives local courts authority to decide who should be released and who should be detained while awaiting trial, furthering the opportunity for racial biases. 

“While SB 10 may seem progressive, judges already subjectively determine conditions of release,” said Don Mescia, executive director of United Bail of America. “We’ve seen judges in Baltimore, Spokane and St. Louis choose to keep defendants in jail while awaiting trial under similar systems. This bill only serves to put thousands of California bail agents out of work and deplete the resources of an already strained criminal justice system.”

Criminal justice activists and reform groups, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who initially supported the bill, withdrew support this week after amendments raised concerns that SB 10 gave courts too much discretion, urging lawmakers to vote against the bill. 

“Assemblyman David Chiu, who voted in favor of the bill, admitted that it’s not perfect, so why introduce it to our criminal justice system at all? It’s clear that no one supports this bill, losing advocates days before the vote and being passed by the bare minimum,” said Mescia. “We’ve seen negative consequences in states that passed similar bail reform policies, including increased incarceration and failure to appear rates. We do not want SB 10 to become the precedent for failed bail reform across the country.”

The state Senate now has two weeks to determine the fate of SB 10. 

United Bail of America Applauds the Passage of the Citizen's Right to Know Act

Transparency of pretrial services administered and paid for by federal grant programs is a step in the right direction

 

CHARLESTON, S.C., MAY 10, 2018 --United Bail of America (UBA) applauds the passing of H.R. 2152, commonly referred to as the “Citizens’ Right to Know Act,” by the House of Representatives on May 9, 2018 as step in the right direction to reasonable bail reform.

The bill, passed by a 221-197 majority, will require states using funds provided by the Department of Justice for pretrial services to submit certain information annually about participating defendants to the Attorney General.

The new legislation requires states to report:
(1)  The names and criminal histories of defendants taking part in the program
(2)  Previous times defendants in the program failed to make an appearance
(3)  The amount of funding allocated and used by the program in a given fiscal year

UBA agents, who also preform pretrial services, applaud the act as a commonsense oversight. Prior to this legislation, administrators had no ability to determine the effectiveness of federal pretrial release programs and taxpayers had no ability to hold the program accountable for questionable results. Unfortunately, this lack of transparency and accountability led many repeat offenders to get out of jail on taxpayer dollars. Additionally, in some areas where pretrial services have been completely taken over by federal or state-funded programs, failure to appear rates have risen nearly 40 percent.

“The passing of H.R. 2152 is a step in the right direction to create safer, more transparent and more efficient government-funded bail programs,” said Don Mescia, executive director of UBA. “Even so, private surety agents are still able to offer a series of pretrial services to defendants at a lower cost than government-funded programs can provide—counsel on the conditions of bond, help finding employment, relocation, additional counseling, drug testing, office and home visits and review of defendant conduct while on bail. Personal interviews with potential clients that don’t depend on clouded and often inaccurate algorithms ensure our agents have a personal financial interest in the successful appearance of their client unlike bodiless government agencies, ultimately keeping our communities safer.”

H.R. 2152 will have to be considered by the Senate before becoming an actionable law.

About United Bail of America
The purpose of United Bail of America, LLC. is to allow Palmetto agents to be more informed in our changing and growing industry and to provide every agent with a voice and forum to be heard. We work to build national favorable regulations and legislation and to monitor issues impacting our profession.

About Palmetto Surety Corporation
Palmetto Surety Corporation is a South Carolina based company, founded in 2003, specializing in Surety Bonding. Palmetto Surety is currently producing bonds in states throughout the southeast. Our vision is to create a straightforward process system that streamlines the production of surety bonds to our clients and agencies. Palmetto Surety strives to advance the surety bond industry through exemplary customer service, professionalism, and integrity.

 

To learn more about United Bail of America visit: https://unitedbailofamerica.org

To learn more about Palmetto Surety Corporation visit: http://www.palmettosurety.net


United Bail of America Responds to Koch Brothers and Google Bail Reform Partnership

CHARLESTON, S.C., May 8, 2018 -- The recent announcement by Google to support the actions of those who break the law over those that are victims of such predators is just another example of the moral and ethical failings of the American society.

Professionals in any industry should be concerned about major companies getting involved in politics. Is Google concerned about the welfare of the law-abiding taxpayers, or those who commit unlawful acts against the norms of society? Did they team with the notorious billionaires to gain more wealth by embracing part of the paid “risk assessment” computer algorithm movement? The only people who will be hurt in this new era of unaccountable bail releases is the victim of crimes and the working taxpayer.

Google has not pulled its ads for pharmaceutical companies, alcohol distributors, tobacco companies, dollar stores, even Walmart - and the list goes on.

The poor who have broken the law were not arrested for being poor. They were arrested for an action they took. The defendant will have a bond hearing usually within a 24-hour time period at which time a judge will make a decision based on facts on whether or not to detain the accused.

The premise of the indigent being jailed for the lack of funds is a fallacy that was addressed by the Manhattan Bail Project in the 1960’s. The federal government and states at that time added protections for these accused in the implementation of codes and even state constitutional changes. The bail industry was actually developed to help the poor by allowing them the opportunity to pay a small portion of the aggregate bail amount.

The bail bondsman does not have any say in who is released without having to post bail or the amount the court determines is adequate to guarantee the safety to the community and risk of flight. Bail bondsman have allowed non-interest payment agreements to those who cannot afford the standard 10% to once again protect the poor from lengthy jail stays. The bail bondsman does, however, consider a risk assessment of each defendant prior to placing themselves responsible to absorb the financial loss. The bail bondsman will require the defendant to have a stable address, family support and ties to the community. They will weigh drug or alcohol addictions, mental illness, criminal history, prior convictions, violent crimes and appearance history.

Bail bondsmen are backed by surety companies and they stand to lose everything. Pre-trial advocates are thrilled if they have an 85-90% success rate of defendants appearing in court. To turn any profit, the bail bondsman must have no less than a 96% percent success rate or they will become insolvent.

The bail industry serves as a valuable tool in the criminal justice system protecting the court, public and the defendant alike. Studies have shown without the aid of the bail bondsman, the number of defendants who fail to appear at scheduled court dates can increase by 40% or more.

America was found on free enterprise, and yes - even Google, Facebook, Coca-Cola, hedge fund brokers, attorneys, rappers and athletes go to work for compensation and profit. None of which worry about if the poor can afford their service or price of admission! We are a great nation because we can strive to be or do the best that is within us. We have all been provided choices and as a society must treat the addiction and inherited behavior but not at the taxpayers’ expense. The bail bondsman should not be ridiculed but praised for the service they provide. The attempt to disgrace and alienate an industry without all of the facts is reckless.

Don Mescia,
Executive Director UBA


The Arnold Foundation Risk Assessment Fails the Test of an Effective Tool

Statement by united bail of america executive director don mescia

CHARLESTON, S.C., OCTOBER 16, 2017 -- Last week Harvard Law convened a panel to discuss risk assessment tools and their impact on the criminal justice system.

According to the criteria laid out by the expert panel, the Arnold Foundation’s tool violates nearly every accepted practice for using this type of risk assessment tool. The proponents of the Arnold Foundation risk assessment should watch every minute of this one-hour discussion.

The experts convened laid out the case for good data going into any tool. They stressed the need for transparency on how any tool like this would work. They emphasized how, at this time, we need judges to work with these types of tools and not rely on them exclusively for decision-making. They talked the dangers of these tools possibly not keeping up with trends and changes in how laws are administered. In short, they made a convincing argument that tools such as this are still a long way off from being an effective solution for determining risk, the very problem they were created to solve. The experts also made the compelling and shockingly obvious argument that any tool that taxpayers are funding, like the Arnold Foundation tool, should be transparent so that taxpayers know exactly what they are paying for.

The panel made a very appropriate analogy to what is currently happening in the criminal justice system. Imagine that instead of listening to your doctor, you simply fed incomplete data into a computer that only knew part of your medical history. Imagine that the computer told you what medicine to take and then you were forced to take that medicine. No one would ever do that. But that’s exactly what the communities relying on the Arnold Foundation are doing every day. People’s lives are being changed forever by a tool with incomplete data that no one except the Arnold Foundation understands and we’re all expected to be ok with this.


Bail Industry Poised To Take On Zuckerberg And Soros To Protect American Citizens

Bail Industry Fights Dangerous Movement to Release More of the Accused on Their Own Recognizance

CHARLESTON, S.C., OCTOBER 11, 2017 -- United Bail of America today announced that it is fighting back against the Zuckerberg and Soros funded initiatives to end bail in the United States.

Don Mescia, Executive Director of United Bail of America said, "There is a growing and completely misguided effort to end the bail system in the United States. No one wants to see people incarcerated, awaiting trial for petty crimes and causing personal hardship. But solutions to the problem should be focused on making sure that the defendants appear in court when they should so that justice can be served. That is, after all, the point of the court system."

The bail system provides pre-trial services at no cost to the taxpayer. When a judge determines that as a condition of release the accused must undergo drug testing, or home detention, often while waiting months or years for a trial, it is the bail bondsman who makes sure that the conditions of the bail are enforced. In a world without bail bondsmen those pretrial services must be managed by the courts and funded by the taxpayers.

Bail or surety, is a form of insurance. Like any other insurance there is a risk assessment conducted and the client or defendant while awaiting trial pays an insurance premium just like paying for car or homeowners insurance. We don't let individuals drive a car without insurance and banks won't let you have a mortgage without insurance, but this "reform" movement is willing to let the accused out of jail with no guarantee that they will appear in court for their trial.

In addition, many states are not equipped or funded to apprehend fugitives of the court. Many states have a "two state" rule where they will not go further than two states away to apprehend those who miss their court dates. Career criminals are well aware of the rules and procedures that states follow and take advantage of those rules whenever possible. It is the bail bondsman who will apprehend most fugitives to ensure that they appear in court to face their accusers and victims.

Said Mescia, "There is no such thing as 'Big Bail.' We are a collection of small businesses, many of them minority owned. Our industry protects the state, protects the defendants and protects citizens all in order to serve justice. We're going to fight the billionaires who don't understand how this system works and want to put an important industry out of business."