Recently, the state of Illinois ended the use of “secured bail.” The secured bail that has been used in Illinois has been by deposit of money to the government, with the objective of those monies being returned if the person released from jail attends all their court dates. This practice of secured bail, while not widely used in Illinois, did have a positive impact on people making their court dates over just releasing someone with their sole promise to appear with a signature. The fact is, there have been requests to obtain the “failure to appear” rates in Illinois, only to have no data released. Well, who cares? Who cares if people attend court? Ask yourself that. Why would you care if a person has no skin in the game? Why would you make any effort to make sure someone shows up in court? Better yet, if they do not show, why would you go and apprehend them and return them to court? A lot of questions have been posed above, and the reality is there are very few people within the criminal justice system who have care or concern if someone appears in court. Of course, Law Enforcement does, as they risk their lives every day to protect our communities. But Law Enforcement cannot make the necessary effort should someone fail to appear. Law Enforcement is plagued by staffing shortages, and budget cuts and quite frankly, some agencies fear initiating more contact with the public and facing constant scrutiny. Prosecutors do have a desire to see people appear in court, and quite often, they fight for confinement, knowing darn well that a person is most likely going to fail to appear in court. But beyond that, who in the government is concerned about one appearing in court? Then you bring along a system that does create an entity that does have skin in the game, an entity that is not funded by the taxpayers, and that is the “bail bond profession.” When bail was first used in the United States, it was not as it is today; in fact, as history will show, private citizens were tasked to have a person released on “their surety” to make sure that people appeared in court. Today, the modern bail bondsman works in a system that has an over 98% success rate in ensuring that people appear in court. Where does that number come from? It comes from agencies that are not afraid to share the data. Ironically, places in California share this data upon request. I encourage you to try and collect this data. Ask these questions to your local county: How many people are currently on bail? How many warrants are there in this (said) county? How many current bail forfeitures are there? How many summary judgments have been paid in the past 12 months? You will see how the 98% success rate of ensuring that people appear in court is correct. So, why on earth would we want to eliminate an entity that has such success? Why? Because the “bail profession” is an easy target in the move to reform the accountability of criminal activity! That is the end game: to change how and why people are punished for activities they are found guilty of. Then you have a lawless community that falls right into the script that is being followed by these movements. Back to Illinois, it will not take long before the use of taxpayer-funded government release without security will show that the criminal justice system will come to a rude awakening when many people released without security fail to appear. This will undoubtedly lead to more incarceration and more people languishing in jail without bail. It will be then that people on both sides of the argument will come to realize that removing a person’s Constitutional Right to bail may not have been the best move. If you want to see the California data, please let me know, and I will share it with you.
Topo Padilla President, PBUS’