Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bail Bonds Customer Service

Greetings All!  Occasionally, we come across an article, posting, story, etc. that just seems to echo our thoughts.  Here's a blog post from someone near and dear to our hearts that we just had to share.  This was written by fellow Bondsman and Father in Law to our founder; Al Perna.  Al's perspective on the Bail industry(and on life in general); is one of ignoring the cover to check out the book within.

"Ask anyone what a bail bond agent does and they are likely to say that he “gets people out of jail”. Others may say that he sometimes gets people out of jail and puts them back in jail like that guy on TV.
During the past month, it has become clear to me that Bail Bonds is a customer service business. A good bail bond agent provides a service…to several different customers. Let me explain.
At least 8 times in the past month, I have received a call from a person who has learned that he had a warrant for his arrest and wanted to take care of it. All 8 cases played out in the same manner, so I will use one as an example to make my point.
A young man called me and told me that he learned that he had a warrant for his arrest and wanted to find out how to take care of it. A deputy sheriff had called him and told him that there was a warrant and he needed to turn himself in at the jail. He wanted to find out if there was a better way to handle the situation.
Most people believe that an arrest warrant is the first step in going to jail. I tend to think of it as the first step in getting before the court. The warrant commands law enforcement to seize the person and bring him before the court. So, it’s more about going to court. Going to jail is incidental. A big incidental.
In speaking with the young man, I obtained his personal information and was able to confirm that there was an arrest warrant for a property crime and that the court had set a bond of $2000. I told him the best way that I know to handle the matter. I know of a particular facility that is best and handling “walk-thru” bonds. We would meet there, he would be “booked”, I would post the bond and he would be assigned a date to return to court. Yes, he would be “going to jail” but he would not have to stay there until court. The bond would allow him to be free of custody until and appear in court as directed. This could all be accomplished in about two hours.
We did accomplish this just as I did with the other seven people who called me. Indeed, word had spread and I am receiving more calls from people who heard about it from a friend or attorney and we are taking care of their warrants.
It’s obvious that the person with the warrant is a customer and the service that I provide is post the bond. However, there are several other, less obvious, customers.
The first is law enforcement. People are contacting me and I am arranging to bring them to law enforcement instead of law enforcement going out and looking for them.
The second customer is the jail. I know when the jails are busiest and when they are not. I schedule the “arrest” for times when the jail is the slowest so that we are in and out faster. This benefits the jail as it spreads out the work load.
The third customer is the court. The court has ordered that the defendant be brought in to answer to the charges. I help arrange the meeting.
The fourth customer is the victim of the crime. The victim deserves to have his day in court. The only way that happens is if the defendant shows up. I make that arrangement, as well.
Finally, law enforcement may be a customer again. If the defendant fails to appear, the court will issue another arrest warrant as well as a forfeiture notice. I must seize the person and bring him before the court or I must personally pay the full amount of the bail. You can bet that I’m going to do my best to find the person so that I don’t have to pay.
So, Bail Bonds is clearly a customer service business. If only more people understood this."

Oftentimes; in the course of our work as Bail Bondsmen, we wear many hats and must be adept at switching roles quickly.  For example: numerous times per day, we will immediately switch from speaking with a defendant and their loved ones; who may need us to assume more of a counseling role than anything else, to speaking with Judges, Court Clerks, Attorneys, Law Enforcement, Jail Personnel, etc.; who typically are "just about the facts", to back to the counselor role in assisting the defendant and their loved ones.

As Al's blog post demonstrates; while our generic role is Customer Service, who that customer is goes far beyond the cover and is what comprises the book.

Bond Squad Bail Bonds


Friday, January 25, 2013

Colorado HB13-1129 & PreTrial Release Initiatives: New Lipstick on the same old Pig

We read a recent Blog post by Brian Nairin; honors graduate from Loyola Law School, President and CEO of AIA and nationally recognized expert in Bail Law, that hit the heart of the PreTrial Release/Deposit Bail argument so well, we just had to share.  Here is Brian's Blog posting:

"Pretrial Release Agencies: Bail Bond Myths? Propaganda? Or Just Misguided Fantasy?

I just finished reading the latest piece of fictional research being disseminated by the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI), and I thought I would share my thoughts on it.  While I do enjoy a good crime novel every once and a while, this specific story fell short in both storyline and substance.  And while I don’t typically like to ruin a good story or give away the end, I am not really worried about that here because to be honest, there is nothing new to this latest story that hasn’t been said previously. 

PJI once again has decided to put time, effort, and more likely than not, your tax-dollars into disseminating anti-bail propaganda to try and discredit the commercial bail bond industry.  For those of you who don’t know who PJI is, they are the leading advocate for the elimination of all commercial bail in every instance of release pending trial.  So it is no mystery why they continuously go after and try and undermine the commercial bail industry and its proven effectiveness.   In this latest attempt, they have gone after several research studies.  Their focus is on discrediting and pointing out “so-called” limitations in not one, not two, but SIX different research studies that all prove that financially secured release is more effective than other forms of release (specifically unsecured release).   And please know that these research studies weren’t conducted in the back office of a bail bond agents retail operation, as it almost feels like the PJI community would like you to believe.  But rather the studies that PJI is trying to discredit are coming from some of the nation’s leading research and criminal justice experts and Universities, including The University of Arizona, The US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, and The University of Chicago to name a few.

What is eerily missing from this story is a single study that shows that unsecured release is the most effective form of pretrial release.  Why is that?  Because one doesn’t exist.  Why is that? Because anyone who looks at comparing these forms of release (like the six studies referenced in the study PJI is disseminating) all come to the same conclusion…that financially secured bail outperforms unsecured bail in appearance rates and recidivism rates every time.  Remember, we aren’t talking about a single study; we are talking about 6 studies. 

As one of its conclusions, PJI suggests that more research be conducted to determine the best way to manage pretrial populations.  But to be honest, do we really need more research to show us that financially secured release is the most effective form of release only to have PJI than discredit the research because it didn’t help push their anti-commercial bail agenda.  I don’t think so. 

What I would like to see is PJI look in the mirror at themselves.  They need to do a study on their performance and share those results with the entire criminal justice system (which by the way, they never seem to want to do).  They need to answer a few questions… questions like, how effective are they at ensuring someone released through one of their pretrial service agencies is showing up for court?  How effective are they at ensuring that someone released through one of their programs is not out committing additional crimes?  And most importantly, how effective are they at going out and getting someone when they don’t show up for court?  Oh wait, I forgot, they don’t go out and get them. That is not their job.  Instead it falls on an overworked and undermanned law enforcement community to clean up Pretrial’s failures. 

When and if PJI decides to look at these issues, it would help if they hold themselves to the same criteria that the commercial bail bond industry does when calculating appearance rates.  For example, when a defendant has 10 scheduled court appearances and attends 9 of them, missing the last one, the bail industry considers that a Failure to Appear (FTA) rate of 100%.  A pretrial service agency looks at that same scenario and calculates their FTA rate as only 10%, because the defendant only missed 1 of 10 appearances.  Not quite the apples to apples comparsion they would like you to believe it is?  And the worst part of this…for PJI, not for the bail industry…is that even when pretrial services calculates their FTAs in this way, the commercial bail industry still outperforms them.   Maybe that is why they don’t want anyone to see or at least now believe the research.

While the pretrial community can continue to sling mud and arrows and the commercial bail bond industry and discredit the research studies of leading experts and institutions around the country, commercial bail will continue to do what we do.  We will continue to live up to the promises we make to the families of those defendants we bail out.  We will continue to keep the promises to the courts that we will return those defendants.  We will continue to keep the promises to the communities in which live, work, protect and support.  Why?  Because it is what we do and what we have always done.  Because bail does work.   We know it works.  Research shows it works.  97% of Sheriffs say it works.  90% of Judges say it works.  And at the end of the day, isn’t that all that should matter.  I look forward to hearing your comments."
As Brian plainly states; it is hard to argue with facts.  Now, the powers that are pushing these initiatives have realized this.  So, since none of the six independent research studies supported their cause, they decided to design a study that would.  Proving the adage that "great marketing lends credibility"; they even adopted a new catch-phrase: "Evidence-Based Practices"....It just oozes "Credibility".

Where was this designed study performed?  Colorado's own Jefferson County.  How does it tie into HB13-1129? 

Introduced on 1/18/13, HB13-1129 reads as follows: "Concerning creating the Evidence-Based Practices Implementation for Capacity Resource Center." Some title, huh?

The bill summary reads as follows: "The bill creates the evidence-based practices implementation for capacity resource center in the division of criminal justice in the department of public safety. The resource center will assist agencies serving juvenile and adult populations to develop, implement, and sustain effective science-based frameworks to support the use of evidence-based practices. An advisory board will oversee the resource center."

The advisory board will consist of the directors of the department of public safety, corrections, human services, criminal justice and probation. "The division of criminal justice is authorized to accept gifts, grants and donations for the program." The members of the board will not be compensated.

The language of the bill seems to be constructed to obscure the true meaning of the bill.

Evidence-based practices is a term that the Pretrial Justice Institute likes to throw around in selling Pretrial Release.

The Jefferson County Bail Project was a study of pretrial services in Jeffco and was written by Michael R. Jones. Jones was the Criminal Justice Planning Manager for Jefferson County at the time. That report lead to a report published by the Pretrial Justice Institute "The Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool". The report was authored by Michael R. Jones as well. Mr. Jones no longer works for Jefferson County. He is a senior project associate for the Pretrial Justice Institute and runs the Colorado Office. His job is to assist jurisdictions in "implementing more legal and empirically-based pretrial policies". Staff - Pretrial Justice Institute
Somehow Michael R. Jones and his report seem.....hmmmm, what's the term I'm searching for...oh yeah.....BIASED!!  Funny thing about Bias; it tends to undermine good ol' Credibility.  But hey, slap that new "Evidence-Based Practices" Lipstick on this Old Pig, hope the Colorado Legislators are not into doing research of their own and get this Pig to Market.  The crazy thing is; these con men will probably succeed in selling it. 
Bond Squad Bail Bonds