Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Bail Bond Bill Will Create Debtor’s Prisons

Why are Republicans pushing a bill opposed almost unanimously by criminal justice professionals?

By - May 21st, 2013 12:45 pm
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Across America, more than half a million inmates sit in jails simply because they are poor. They are there “not because they are dangerous or a threat to society or because a judge thinks they will run. It’s not even because they are guilty; they haven’t even been tried yet. They are here because they can’t make bail — sometimes as little as $50.”

So concluded National Public Radio in 2010. Little has changed since that report, but legislators in Wisconsin want to increase the number of inmates stuck in America’s version of debtors prison by adding this state to the 46 others that use the private bail bond system.

No one involved in the state’s criminal justice system favors the idea. Indeed, in 2011, when Republican legislators tried to pass a bill returning to a private bail bond system in Wisconsin, the measure was opposed by judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, sheriffs and clerks of court. Even free market champions like Gov. Scott Walker and state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) opposed the bill.

To post bail, defendants typically must pay the bail bond company 10 percent of the bond, and will lose that money even if they show up in court. So if they can’t afford to pay the money, they simply end up in jail until their court date. By contrast, under Wisconsin’s system, created by law in 1979, defendants pay their fee to the court and it is refunded when they show up for their case.

A study by the U.S. Department of Justice found that two thirds of people in the nation’s jails are petty, nonviolent offenders who are there for only one reason, because they can’t afford their bail. The cost to taxpayers of this unnecessary imprisonment is $9 billion a year, the department has estimated.

In theory, the bail bond system is intended to assure that defendants show up for trial. In reality, companies get paid whether defendants show up or not. Failure-to-appear rates for defendants accused of felonies in Milwaukee County are 16 percent or less, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported. The no-show rate nationally is about 25 percent, according to a study by the conservative Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.

Perhaps the worst result of private bail bonds is how they can corrupt judges. The higher the bail set by judges, the higher the profit for bail bond companies. This creates a strong incentive for these companies to elect and influence judges who are friendly to the industry. “In other states, the exploitation of the practice has led to the convictions of judges in Louisiana and Texas,” the Cap Times has reported. “And in 2010, a bail bonds bribery case led to the first impeachment of a U.S. district judge in more than two decades.”

So the bail bond system ends up costing taxpayers more, while doing a poorer job of assuring that defendants show up for court, and creating a system where judges can be corrupted by bail bond companies. These were among the reasons that Wisconsin reformed the system 34 years ago. That’s more than three decades to test the results, and there have been no notable complaints about the new system.

Globally, it is rare to find a country that uses the commercial bail bond system. So if this system is so bad, and so uniformly opposed by criminal justice professionals, why is it once again being proposed in Wisconsin and why has Walker left the door open to signing the provision?

The bill’s major supporter is the American Bail Coalition, which represents the bail bond companies that profit greatly from the system. The American Bail Coalition spent $105,000 on lobbying in the 2011-2012 legislative session in Wisconsin and is ready to lobby heavily again. For this session it has hired prominent Capitol lobbyist Eric Petersen to augment its forces.

The coalition also has support from the American Legislative Exchange Council, a non-profit with heavy corporate funding (including by the Koch brothers), not to mention funding by Milwaukee’s conservative Bradley Foundation. ALEC courts state legislators (including some 2,000 lawmakers, mostly Republicans) and pushes a “free market” agenda, even writing model bills that legislators can then introduce.

The American Bail Coalition’s decision to join ALEC in 1993 “pushed the ABC agenda down the road to fulfillment of its objectives,” a newsletter by the coalition reports. “ABC policy goals meshed neatly with those of ALEC,” the report added, and ABC executive director Dennis Bartlett serves today as a member of the Private Sector Committee of ALEC.

Rep. Robin Vos, state Assembly Speaker.

Rep. Robin Vos, state Assembly Speaker.

ALEC created a model bail bond bill which was the basis for the one introduced in 2011 by Wisconsin Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), who had attended ALEC conferences in the past. Now the Assembly Speaker, Vos is once again championing the bill.

This is at least the third time an ALEC-connected legislator has pushed to bring commercial bail-bonds back to Wisconsin. “In 2003, the effort was led by Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford), a longtime ALEC alum and former co-chair of the ALEC “Criminal Justice Task Force,” which was also co-chaired by representatives of the American Bail Coalition,” as Brendan Fischer of the Center for Media and Democracy has written.

In 2011, Walker vetoed the bill, saying he didn’t think there had been enough time “to properly evaluate the proposal and to plan for appropriate regulation of this industry.” But this time the measure could be included as part of the budget bill, which could ease its passage, and Walker hasn’t signaled where he stands on the issue. Walker spokesman Tom Evenson told the Journal Sentinel that the governor would “evaluate the budget in its entirety when it comes to his desk.”

The return of commercial bail bonds, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has stated, “will primarily benefit out-of-state interests, the large bail-bond corporations” motivated “purely by financial interests” at the expense of public safety.

Chisholm said that bail bond agents often set up payment plans with high interest rates that “resemble the predatory practices of the cash loan industry” and trap low-income individuals into a cycle of debt.

If the bill passes it will increase the taxpayers costs for imprisonment, says Rep. Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee), a former judge who championed the reform bill of 1979. “Wisconsin saw a 5-6 percent decrease in its jail population” after the private bail-bond system was banned in 1979, he told the media, “and will likely see a 5-6 percent increase if the practice comes back.”

The old bail bonding business was especially lucrative during the civil rights era, Kessler has said: “You arrest 200 people in one night protesting for open housing, and you set bail of $500 each, which requires a premium of $50 each, you end up having $10,000 in premium right there.”

A private bail bond system undercuts the authority of judges, Milwaukee County Chief Judge Jeff Kremers told the Journal Sentinel: “Now the decision is no longer up to a judge, it’s up to some insurance type person who’s thinking, ‘Can I make money on this release?’” That system, he added, “doesn’t tell us anything about how dangerous (defendants) are. It just tells us how much money they have or their family has.”

26 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Bail Bond Bill Will Create Debtor’s Prisons”

  1. The Danimal says:

    The rethuglican corruption knows no bounds…

  2. Bruce Thompson says:

    Years ago, when I lived in Philadelphia, the bail bond industry was a continual source of scandal. Besides those Bruce mentions, it was criticized as favoring repeat criminals who were considered good credit risks.

  3. The Justice Policy Institute found much the same as what you are reporting here in states that allow for-profit bail bonding. The multi-billion dollar surety insurance industry imposes itself in jurisdictions across the country, paying for influence and fighting against public safety and fairness. For-profit bail bonding is not less expensive, fairer or more effective in any measure except making money for insurance companies campaign coffers. Check it out: http://www.justicepolicy.org/research/4388

  4. Bail Insights says:

    So now we know one side of the story…and very obviously one that is against the commercial bail industry. How about some facts from the other side, or as I like to refer to them as, the truth. Every research study ever done on pretrial release has shown that commercial bail bonding is the MOST effective form of release. More people go to court and while they are out on a bond they are less recidivistic in their behavior. So in terms of performance, I am not sure where the author is getting his facts.

    The comment made that people are languishing away in jail because they cant afford a bail bond is absolutely false. Why? Because with a bail bond people can get out of jail for 10% as opposed to having to pay the whole amount. The author seems to gloss over that fact in his description. He just focuses on the fact that you don’t receive your payment back. What he doesn’t understand is that a bail bond is an insurance policy. Just like any other insurance policy you pay a premium to the insurance agent for that coverage. If you drive a whole year and don’t have an accident, does your insurance company refund your premium. Absolutely not. What a commercial bail bond does is “GUARANTEE” that the defendant shows up for court. If they don’t the bail agent goes and gets them. If they don’t get them, they pay the full amount to the court. When someone is let out through the current system, nobody goes and gets them, a warrant is issued and it becomes law enforcement’s job. Usually they get picked up after committing another crime and creating another crime victim.

    Also, if commercial bail is the cause of jail overcrowding than explain why Wisconsin jails are dealing with an overcrowding problem if there is currently no commercial bail allowed. Here is a link to a story on the ACLU’s website about this problem (http://aclu-wi.org/story/more-money-prison-overcrowding-human-rights-crisis). Remember…no commercial bail in Wisconsin and there is overcrowding. Interesting huh?

    In regards to the statement that commercial bail costs the state money…really? How is that math being done? The current system requires tax dollars and lots of them. People have to come up with the full amount of bail (harder to do than just 10%) and sit in jail longer all on the taxpayers dime. With commercial bail, people are released quicker because they only have to come up with 10%, the insurance companies that back each bail bond pay a premium tax to the local jurisdiction (in California that premium tax amount topped $12 Million), and when they don’t perform, bail agents pay the full amount of the bond to the court. Explain to me where the cost is for the county. There is no cost. In fact, bail actually generates revenue. Additionally, in a recent study out of the University of Texas at Dallas, a researcher determined the cost of a failure to appear (when someone doesn’t show up for court). Based on that amount (a little over $1,700 per defendant) the commercial bail industry saved Dallas County over $11 Million. Does that sound like an industry that costs the local jurisdictions money…hardly.

    And now something that we can all agree is important, public safety. When people are released on a commercial bail bond, they are being watched and monitored by several people who all have skin in the game. The bail agent has put up his money and promise to the court (along with the insurance company). The family has put up financial assets to secure the defendants release. What this does is create a circle of influence around each defendant that both ensures they show up for court and in the process stay out of trouble. Financially secured release has been proven time and time again but every research study ever done to be the most effective form of release.

    Wisconsin is not alone in its thinking. Currently, Oregon is also contemplating the return of commercial bail. Why? Because it works. Without someone monitoring defendants with skin in the game…without defendant’s knowing that someone will come after them if they don’t show up for court…without family members tied emotionally and financially to the performance of a defendant…there is NO ACCOUNTABILITY in the system. And without accountability, the system fails. People need to stop believing what they see on television and in the movies. The commercial bail industry is vital to the criminal justice system. In recent surveys among judges, sheriffs and court administrators across the country, it was found that all of the groups (over 90% in every case) believed that commercial bail played an important role in the criminal justice system.

    Next time there is a story put out about they commercial bail bond industry returning to Wisconsin, it would be good to hear both sides of the story. Once the facts are shared, the decision is pretty simple. That would be great journalism.

  5. Justin says:

    Clearly this is a slanted article. Although editorials are evaluated differently than “news” stories, some of the statements made in this editorial are just flat our “WRONG.”

    The return of commercial bail to Wisconsin would be beneficial with the biggest benefit felt in the lowest income urban areas. I am not sure what “research” was done for this story but I doubt that it included speaking with any of the families that would “LOVE” to have this option. The jails in Wisconsin are currently filled with people that cannot afford the bonds that are set RIGHT NOW. At the same time, there is NO government program more inefficient or ineffective than Pretrial Release Services. Pretrial Services costs the tax payers a TON of money while not doing any actual service. The REAL scandal is that Pretrial Services is used to evaluated inmates and make a “recommendation” for “BEST” release method. You would never guess that most of their recommendations are for inmates to be placed into the Pretrial Services “diversion” program.

    You are write that Bail Agents of prior decades were not the most ethical people or morally sound but we can agree that there were many police officers that fell into the same category. We did not eliminate law enforcement because of a few bad apples, we refined the system. To the gentleman from Philadelphia, either you are dating yourself or your information is inaccurate because Surety Bail has not been used in Philadelphia for DECADES. Because of how inept and poorly run the system has been, they just lowered the standards to a reasonable level to allow Commercial Bail back into Philadelphia; the reason? Because they found that the system had a huge failure to appear rate and the courts were failing to collect almost $1 billion in bonds from people that had been released and never paid their bond.

    The Justice Policy Institute is one of the most partisan institutes in the United States. If you want to expand public programs, then the expansion of Criminal Welfare is the logical next step and that is the goal of the JPI. It is statistically proven that Surety Bail is the MOST effetive and efficient system of guaranteeing release.

    I do agree with the author that in many cases bond amount have risen but that is not because of Surety Bail. Most pro-surety individuals, like myself, believe that small bond sizes are better. In many cases, Pretrial Services places unnecessary restriction on individuals in an effort to increase costs that are billed back to the person being overseen. People are not allowed the option to choose another release mechanism, they are released on this “diversion” program and must comply or face going back to jail and having a restrictive bond set or no bond at all.

    You can tell that these anti-surety arguments are a load because all this legislation would do is OFFER THE OPTION, it would not require the use of commercial bail. I have attendend my fair share of legislative hearings and I have never heard a anyone involved with the court argue in favor of limiting the judicial options, except for when it comes to Surety Bail. The public should ask why? And the answer? Exactly what your title talks about, MONEY?

    Right now the current system pushes people to use pawn brokers, check cashing services, and payday loan businesses. There are over a billion dollars in fees paid to these business on bail related clients alone. There is no large lobby than the Pretrial Services lobby and they lobby at every level, from the county to the federal level. I work in the system and see this stuff everyday, I dont only read some webpage or some study and believe that i have the pulse of the people. I meet with and speak to the people that this stuff effects every day.

    How about within 30 days of Milwaukee’s new program, they had to remove the “Diversion” program from a couple of people because of Public Outrage. How about Ruez from New York that was released on GPS tether, had 47 violations before cutting off his tether, then raping and killing a 10 year old girl. How about Orlando Florida shutting down its GPS diversion program?

    A simple google search will bring back all of these items, I would attach link but the post would be full of them. If you want to have an open and honest discussion, I can provide backing to each and every claim; including the Justice Institutes connection to “pro-welfare” organizations, whose goals are to expand welfare into Criminal Welfare.

    The Governor veto’d the prior bill because it was a rider on the budget bill and that is NOT the appropriate way to re-introduce Surety Bail into Wisconsin. A specific bill that allows people to have a constructive conversation with facts is the proper way to bring Commercial Bail back to Wisconsin and the citizens will be better off for it.

  6. JusticeforWI says:

    A simple Google search will also provide voluminous examples of bail bonding agents repeatedly posting bail for defendants with long criminal histories charged with serious and/or violent offenses who then commit additional serious/violent offenses (Maurice Clemmons comes to mind, but there are many more examples). A simple Google search will also provide an exorbitant number of examples of bondsmen charged with assault, kidnapping, fraud, bribery, operating without proper licensing, murder, theft, failure to pay forfeited bonds, etc.

    Don’t tell me Wisconsin citizens will be better off with the sleaze that is the bonding industry.

  7. Justin says:

    JusticeforWI, some people want to have “constructive” conversations. A smart reply such as yours does nothing to do that. Yes, a google search can find a lot of things and a lot of sleazy people; including sleazy attorneys, sleazy judges, sleazy police officer, sleazy politicians, etc. Just because there are a few bad apples, does not mean that the system does not work.

    As for Maurice Clemens, the JUDGE sets the bond, if Mr. Clemens was NOT supposed to be released then the JUDGE should have denied bond. IN fact the Bail Agent involved was cleared of ANY wrong doing and was shown to be monitoring Mr. Clemens very well. No Pre-Trial program can prevent a crime, it is what is done after the violation that is important. In the case of things like Pretrial Services, NOTHING is done…so how does that benefit society or the people.

    The bonding industry WILL benefit the people by generating millions in tax revenue, it will benefit the people by allowing those that CHOOSE to reduce the cost of bonding, it will benefit the courts and the people by allowing the all of them an additional choice. Freedom is about choice, why not allow the people to choose their preferred release option?

    Payday loans are pure predatory lending, Wisconsin has done nothing to prevent them. So maybe this is more about the lobbying of the government programs that are threatened by allowing the people to have a choice. If its that bad, then they simply will not use them.

  8. JusticeforWI says:

    Justin- You said in your post “A simple google search will bring back all of these items, I would attach link but the post would be full of them. If you want to have an open and honest discussion, I can provide backing to each and every claim; including the Justice Institutes connection to “pro-welfare” organizations, whose goals are to expand welfare into Criminal Welfare.”

    Is that a “constructive” argument or presentation of your case? Hmmm…interesting your double standard. You can use the “just Google” it approach to support your argument but others cannot? I can provide readers plenty of links to horrid bail bonding situations and crimes committed by bail bondsmen, but the post would be full of them. Millions in revenue? Yeah right. I can provide plenty of links to reports of the bonding industry owing jurisdictions MILLIONS in unpaid forfeitures. I can also provide plenty of links that demonstrate that the for profit bonding industry is directly tied to the right wing, ultra conservative ALEC and their efforts to line the pockets of legislators in exchange for introduction of right wing legislation.

    Their is a significant NEGATIVE fiscal impact to the return of bail bonding in WI, especially for victims and the court system. Perhaps you are unaware (because you’re probably from another state) that under the current WI bail laws, bail on deposit can and frequently is applied to payment of court costs, fines and victim restitution. That disappears with bail bondsmen.

    You should also do a little more homework about our state before you make the assertion that WI has done nothing to “prevent PayDay loan stores”. While the 2009 WI Act 405 didn’t “prevent” these operations, it finally established regulation of the industry. PayDay Loan stores are really no different than Rent-to-Own companies and the Republican Gov. and legislature want to de-regulate this predatory industry. I’m pretty sure ALEC supports that as well. Your concern for “predatory” industries is a complete joke.

    Our bail system in Wisconsin isn’t “broke” and there is no justifiable reason for introducing a for profit, predatory element into our release decisions.

  9. Bruce Thompson says:

    To Bail Insights and Justin: You don’t identify your affiliation but I get the strong impression from your comments that you stand to benefit from legislation that would allow bail bonds and that you don’t live in Wisconsin.

    You don’t list any reputable Wisconsin organizations that support this proposal. Linking to an ACLU press release implies an endorsement, but I note it is several years old.

  10. Justin says:

    Bruce – I know that you think that only people that have a financial interest could support bail but I assure you that I have ZERO financial interest in bringing commercial bail back to Wisconsin. I have no affiliation with ALEC and I am do not work for any of the companies involved with this piece of legislation or the last piece of legislation. I could make broad sweeping allegation about you and why you have your opinion but really who we are has very little to do with the discussion and the facts. We could turn this post into a discussion on the political process and talk about how it cost a lot to get things done and how frequently only those involved in a business will press to make changes – in either direction.
    As for the public support of groups in Wisconsin, your article is not about a lack of support, rather your article is about how the passage of this bill will cause the number of people in jail to rise. Your article makes several allegations and statements that are faulty at best and simply incorrect or inaccurate at worst. ALEC is absolutely a polar organization, often seen as a Godsend on the right and a daemon on the left but many of today’s political organizations have that sort of polarization. I think that you will find that the public supports this bill more than you think, I have spent considerable time discussing this issue with community organizers, church groups, and other similar people and many of them do not share your view.
    I do find it a little humorous that you only undermine the statements of those in favor the bill, why do you not question JusticeforWI’s connection? Catchy names like “BAILINSIGHT” definitely imply a connection with bail but that doesn’t make their statements inaccurate.

    Justice – You copied and pasted my statement very well but you glaze over the entire section about how Commercial Bail has its bad apples. I believe that I make that exact statement a couple of times, so how can I be presenting a “double-standard?” I actually not see how you can even make that statement with a straight face, as I dedicated an entire section to talking about how the Commercial Bail industry has made errors that need to be fixed but should be salvaged just as the law enforcement of the Civil Rights Era.
    I know that you have links but I can also provide links to “Billions” in revenue. The city of Houston alone brings in $5-10 million every year, with cities like Atlanta doing the same. The state of North Carolina puts over $10 million every year into its school system because of “paid” bond forfeitures.
    I have over 15 years in the criminal justice system and the last 2 compiling this data, I am a director of a non-profit with the goal of returning accountability to the justice system.
    I know exactly how the court system works, I also know how the people in the system are treated and how the current system in Wisconsin currently places the burden on those least able to handle it. The money taken on those bonds for restitution is not the offender’s money, its their families money and those people cannot pay rent now. As for victims, I have reams of data on offenders that were released on minor deposit bonds or “diversion” programs and the victim’s never saw justice. Please don’t make broad assumptions, we all remember the grade school saying about assumptions?
    I apologize but do Payday loan businesses still operate in Wisconsin? Yes they do, the regulations are pitiful and show YOUR double standard. I know that you think I am a fool foreigner but I will reiterate my statement about assumptions. I will also point out that no one has answered any of my statements, all that you can do is attack me personally.
    The system in Wisconsin is horribly broke and profits off of the poor. The last I checked, attorneys are a for profit industry and yet no one says that they are “predatory” and attorneys do not even guarantee their services.
    You CANNOT support your statement that instituting a Commercial Bail system will cause any harm or increase in cost. Yes, you can make the “dog the bounty hunter” argument but we all know that what we see on TV is not real.
    This post supports the alienation and segregation of a business that is legal in 46 other states. The 1 thing that I can say about Payday loans is at least they are regulated, which is more than we can say about these diversionary programs. Lets look at NJ and how the New York times article on their Half-way houses. Just because something is a non-profit does not make it good.
    There is proof that GPS tether have less than a 2% impact on cases and yet you probably support those. At the humor about that study is that it is a diversionary Pretrial study that essentially says, see at it makes an impact. But when it comes to giving people a choice, why not allow them to decide? 46 other states are wrong? Oregon is looking to bring it back. Philadelphia recently brought it back. Chicago is looking to bring it back.
    All of this was spent just on whether I have the right to comment on this issue and whether I am justified in my opinion. When I walked into the lion’s den to make a comment, I figured that I would get blasted but I never figured that we would never get to an exchange of ideas.
    We are not even getting into the true benefits about commercial bail bonds, about how the true benefit that occurs after the release happens and even later after the failure to appear happens. In Wisconsin’s current system when someone fails to appear at court, nothing “really” happens. The diversionary Welfare program stops and notifies the court. The court issues a warrant. The police are overburdened already and have no real resources to go after minor offenders. These people will languish in society until they commit another crime. This creates a HUGE uncalculated societal cost, which studies have attempted to put a value on.
    You can argue that “bail bondsmen” are “sleaze,” which is the typical argument against commercial surety but that argument is decades outdated & even the most prolific lobbyist and PR people from Pretrial Services do not make that argument anymore. In fact most of these programs have become what they argued against in the 60’s and 70’s. They now charge the people they monitor and in many cases they charge them more than their bond would have cost. The federal government has calculated the difference in release times to be roughly 3 days, that means that these programs release almost the same number of people with the Welfare programs gaining access to people at book and allowing them to make immediate releases. The fugitive rate after 1 year though are strongly in favor of the commercial surety and YES it’s because they have incentive to go find the people. But lets remember that attorney’s defend people’s cases because they are paid and the system is RIPE with attorneys that will consistently delay cases because they have not been paid their complete fee.
    I believe that I have gone on long enough. I/when you reply, lets see if we can move past the personal attacks. Yes I know that you can post anti-commercial bail links but can you provide anything that supports the current system? Do you have any experience with other systems? Are you just reading the news articles are you getting up and going to meet people? How about people in other states? Once again, if this site allows I can post the budget for Milwaukee’s programs and other budget that show just how much this stuff costs the tax payers and how little other areas spend but you will have to agree that we will use other states because currently Wisconsin does not have any data to compare against.

  11. Bill Sweeney says:

    Justin, aka Daniel in the lion’s den, makes some questionable assertions about how the criminal justice system works in Wisconsin which is understandable since he does not live here. I have some familiarity with how the system works in Milwaukee County. There have been pretrial service programs in Milwaukee County since sometime in the 1960′s. Different agencies compete for the contract to provide these services which allows administrators to decide who they feel provides the best services for the money. There are many complexities involved in the criminal justice system but let me make several generalizations which approach accuracy. Most people arrested are low income. After a person is arrested, a DA will review the evidence, decide on a charge, and make some preliminary calculation about a bail recommendation. The person arrested may be “screened” or interviewed by someone in the pretrial service program who will look at past arrests, current status variables like employment, residence, family connections (a homeless person vs someone living with parents or a wife etc), income etc. The screener will call to verify the information. The arrested person might also have a quick interview with someone from the public defender’s office. There then will be an initial appearance of the defendant in front of a court commissioner who will listen to the DA and the public defender. The screener may offer an oral or written recommendation regarding bail also. Based on all of the information, the court commissioner may release the person on his or her recognizance (no cash bail) with or without conditions other than to show up at the next court date, but more likely they just set a bail and set up a next court date. Typically they are held in jail until the next court date in front of the assigned judge who then is more likely to make a decision about bail. This gives time for the screener and the assigned public defender to make a plea that the person be released on his or her own recognizance, or to have the bail amount reduced. Some possible conditions for release on recognizance could include to cooperate with treatment at a mental health clinic, or a drug or alcohol treatment program, or to report to a bail monitoring program. Someone from the pretrial services program will be in charge of making reports to the court regarding compliance or noncompliance. So there is some amount of monitoring of the defendant in the community. At the same time, there can be a positive impact in the sense that the person may have been arrested because they had an out of control substance abuse problem or an untreated mental illness. A typical scenario then is for the public defender to delay the case for as long as possible. This then becomes a bargaining tool for a plea agreement. To the DA, “Look John Doe has been out on bail for 7 months. He has complied with treatment, and according to reports is doing well. Can’t we agree to a term of 3 years probation with the condition that he continue in treatment?”

    Most defendants do not pay for a lawyer. They either get assigned a public defender or they get an outside attorney who does criminal cases because there are not enough public defenders to cover all the cases. In that instance, the attorneys are paid by the public defender’s office, not the defendant. It is not always pretty, and there is vast room for improvements, none of which involve bail bondsmen.

  12. Joseph says:

    What amazing discussion. I currently own and operate a surety bail company in California. I also have a degree in this field and have been working in the criminal justice system for quite a while. That being said let me give you some real examples of surety bail.

    I was entering the Sheriffs Department when I was approached by a woman asking me if I was a Bail Agent. She told me about her 24 yr old son who was arrested for domestic violence. She said that he was diagnosed with cancer and had an inoperable brain tumor. The different medication he is prescribed along with the chemotherapy at times makes him act out of character. We were able to get him released. The next day he came in our office with his girlfriend (the alleged victim) to fill out his portion of the paperwork. Two months later my client lost his fight with cancer and passed away. I still on occasion receive grateful calls from his mother who is also a local business owner. He was able to spend the last moments of his life surrounded by his family.

    I had another recent client who lost both his brothers suddenly. The night before the funeral he was is an car accident and was arrested for dui. We were able to get him released that morning and he was able to attend the funeral with the rest of his family.

    Both of the above showed up to court to answer there charges.

    There is a common misconception that all people who are arrested are all bad and will re offend or obscound if released.
    I have represented Attorneys, Doctors, Teachers and recently helped a decorated Navy Seal returning from Afghanistan. Good people sometimes make mistakes or are falsely accused. However everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. My job is to provide the accused with an insurance policy to the court guaranteeing their appearance.

    In California we do have pretrial release, Law Enforcement cites and release on own recognizance. But the two individuals above would not have been released on any three of those. The bail in the first case was set at $50,000.00 and in the second $115,000.00. My clients family’s did not have those type of resources. Without surety bail these people would have remained in custody. One would have most likely died there. There is no reason why you cannot have court, law enforcement pretrial release and surety bail. People should have plenty of options when practicing there constitutional eight amendment rights.

    I believe surety bail is a great option. I’m sure you would agree if you or your loved one was in custody.

  13. Tom D says:

    Some people claim that the very existence of bail bondsmen pressures judges to impose cash bond (instead of recognizance) and to increase the bail amounts. The bail industry denies these charges.

    http://www.familybailbonds.com/blog/2012/11/bail-bonds-facts-the-bail-industry-does-not-promote-increased-bail-amounts/

    If I read Joseph’s post correctly, in California, $115,000 bail for DUI is unremarkable. It sounds to me like something is causing California’s bail bond amounts to be set high. If it’s not the existence of bail bondsmen, then what is it?

  14. Robert Muse says:

    Great discussion. A simple point has been missed. “I am here to protect the individual ownership of private property rights and defend civil liberty to serve commerce and freedom” all these issues would eliminated. Why should a defendant put up 100% cash and no option for a commercial bail bond used to implement a constitutional right to bail? Is the court the only one in the business of making money when the defendant misses court then? What happens to the $ 10,000 cash bail by defendant in a no commercial bail state when they fail to go to court? Where did they get this cash bail money? Translation. The government wishes to continue a term labeled as a monopoly with no competition. Do honestly think the criminal justice system is not for profit industry when there is commercial bail? Do think justice in this country in not profit driven? The vendors who provide supplies to jails, the private counselors assign ed to cases, the fuel that goes into the police car, the robes the judge wear, the prosecutors lap top he uses, the medical services provided private corporation, the credit card services used by the government to process payments, and this a country built on commerce. Commercial is a component of constitutional right and commerce to pay city, county, state, and federal taxes paid by citizen taxpayers for this no commercial bail monopoly called pre-trail services. So what is the answer? I have developed and researched a new methodology that actually incorporates pre-trail services and the commercial bail industry into a new partnership that increases safety and commerce. It involves getting everyone out of there closed minded protected territory. It utilizes many commercial bail financial benefits and monitoring and pretrial services evaluation assessment into a new partnership that includes law enforcement that increases dependability and government and commercial profit retention. But both representatives from each commercial, pre-trail, court officials are filled with self serving discriminatory attitudes, practices, and prejudice that affect a citizens right to bail. In the end, laziness is the problem for each special interest to expand the horizon for constitutional freedom and commerce. The alpha and the omega “I am here to protect the individual ownership of private property rights and defend civil liberty to serve commerce and freedom” all these issues would eliminated.

  15. Joseph says:

    Hey Pat,
    Well as we both know that wasn’t my point but I’m game.
    Clients second dui. Had one eight years ago. So second within ten years, minor injury’s involved in both vehicles.
    It was charged as a felony dui w/injury possible death. the possible death thing was extreme being everyone was medically checked out and released that night.
    But then again once your arrested you don’t have any control or choices about anything but whether or not your going to let some guy take you’re sandwich in the can…. It would be nice to have control over some of your rights thou huh? To give Pat and his family some legal options?

    Anyways, as far as the bail schedule goes we are in agreement, in that case way to high. However if your upset about the amount I would contact M.A.D.D. (mothers against drunk driving) There is usually a victims rights group behind every charge and amount on the bail schedule.

  16. joseph says:

    My apologies i mean tom :-)

  17. Doug says:

    Everyone seems to be making a whole lot more out of the issue than need be. It is actually a pretty simple issue to decide once you understand the whole purpose and limits of private bail bonding.

    The purpose is to “insure” the defendants appearance in court, with “insure” being the key word here. We all have insurance policies through private companies for our cars, homes, etc. and accept that as normal and is mandated by law in many cases. We all know big insurance companies are huge lobbyists and have influence, and accept that as well.

    That being said we bail agents these days are mostly regulated by our states respective Department’s of Insurance as are all insurance agents writing policies, meaning there is strict oversight and rigorous traing to get a professional license with on going traing required to renew. We have to follow the laws mandated by the state as well as be aware and follow the rules and regulations of all of the local jurisdictions and courts to continue to operate and make a living working in this industry just the same or more so than the agent who writes your policy for your car or house. We are not cops, judges, jury, or loan sharks ( since we are not allowed to charge intrest on financing a premium).

    We are taking a substantial risk by putting up our assets to cover a loss if our client fails to appear and the judge orders a forfeiture of the bond before we can locate and return the defendant to the court (a huge motivation) which by the way comes out of our pockets usually if the Indemnitors (co-signers) don’t honor their contract. We have only the rights given to us by clients in the contract they agree to and sign, and the limited power allowed by law. We don’t have any control over setting the bond amount or the terms. The judge decides if the defendant is bondable and sets the appropriate amount to be posted. A person with access to money doesn’t need a bondsman’s services, but people with limited resources or poor people if you will have jobs, family, and responsibilities too and stand to lose those things just because they are poor. Remember they haven’t been convicted of anything yet while the judge is who determines the amount of risk to insure the person will show up for their court hearings.

    We don’t twist anyone’s arm to use our service and must compete in a competitive industry. We have an obligation to the court and to the community to enforce the terms on the bond as set by the court or we can face fines or worse from the Department of Insurance or the court, not to mention Civil Court actions if we violate or cause damage to another person or their property whether intentional or not, of even if the accusations are not true.

    Why in anyone’s rational way of thinking would you not want to give a person or their loved ones a choice that might help them keep their homes, jobs, and family intact and maybe off public assistance if the court has determined the risk to the community and a licensed professional is willing to accept the liability and oversee the conditions set by the court?

    You don’t want to stop health insurance companies from doing private commerce and start making your premiums to the state every month do you? … Wait a second…kind of starting to sound a little like Obamacare. WELL…Maybe everyone really doesn’t want a choice when it comes to who they buy their insurance from.

  18. Melissa Neal says:

    People standing to make a profit cannot be part of a discussion about liberty and justice for American citizens. All the stories about bail bondsmen “saving the day” are only because we have a system that is geared toward money. Those moms calling to thank the bail bondsman for those last few moments with her son might be incensed to know that only one other country in the world – the Philippines – uses money for bail and that if her jurisdiction had used current evidence based practices, her son should have been released on recognizance (meaning, no money bail assigned). We don’t have to require money from people in order to ensure they show up at court – according to research. We can predict people who are likely to not show up at court or pose a danger to the community through validated risk assessments – this is a tool judges can use rather than posting a high money bail amount and hoping a bail bondsman won’t pounce on the opportunity to make a profit.

    Bottom line is: money does not need to be a part of this system. Bail bondsmen will do anything all day long to ensure they are able to make a livelihood off people being arrested and going to jail…people who are not convicted of the offense they are accused of. This needs to change.

  19. Justin says:

    Melissa, that has to be the most disingenuous statement alive. People are making a profit throughout the entire system…why pick on Commercial Surety? Especially when this system institutes a “false” non-profit system. Have you lobbied to remove attorney’s from the process? No one makes more money than attorneys. Have you ever spoken with representatives from a state’s Supreme Court to be told that they consider bonds to be “Pre-payment of Fines & Costs?” I have received that response from several states and several judges….so please people do not pretend that this is about anything BUT MONEY.

    You should be aware of how repulsive the systems in Europe are, maybe you should talk to the young lady from Seattle that spent years in an Italian prison. Counties like Canada have simply removed the Commercial portion and still use the cash bonding system – just like Wisconsin (they still have a money based system, it just requires that people pay 100% of the bond). England has been overridden with Warrants and has been considering the return of Commercial Surety for close to 10 years.

    Don’t you think that the parents of the children that are raped and killed are incensed because the Government Run programs have no accountability? Ruez had 46 violation before he cut off his tether. Yes, I think that these evidenced based “practices” work great on coming up with a bond size and maybe even the ability to release some low level offender on a person recognizance but the serious offenders need a serious solution.

    How about the parents of those children that are getting a poor education because Milwaukee spends over $5 million per year on these programs? What is the conviction rate? For all of these programs for 25 years, Milwaukee still has the highest crimes rates of the state, still has a HUGE disparity of arrest and incarceration of minorities, etc.

    It seems very interesting that all of these arguments are made about how bad Commercial Surety is, with ZERO fact and a state and city that still have the same problems that the 46 PRO Commercial Surety states have. Maybe Commercial Surety is not the Daemon that it’s made out to be. Its more regulated than any alternative. So who has benefited from the removal of Commercial Surety in Wisconsin because it surely has NOT been the parents or the families of the poor who are still spending mass amounts of money to prevent incarceration. What about the individuals who are FORCED to use these programs and have their civil rights violated? How about how these programs pile up violations and fees for the courts? This has turned the court system into a HUGE money make for the city. Can someone please tell me how it is bad to allow the citizens of Wisconsin the option to choose?

    Bruce, I haven’t forgot about you but I have been out of time and my responses take up to much of your site. I will respond more later….I think that this conversation has been better over the last coupe of days.

  20. Tom D says:

    Justin, you accuse Melissa of being disingenuous, and then you mis-characterize the current Wisconsin bail system by saying that the current system “requires that people pay 100% of the bond” and referring to “families of the poor who are still spending mass amounts of money to prevent incarceration” when in fact under the current system they do not “pay” or “spend” money but rather just “post” it.

    The difference between “paying” or “spending” vs “posting” is that when you “pay” or “spend”, your money is gone forever, but when you “post”, you can get 100% of your money returned (and whether or not you get this money back is 100% within your control).

    If somebody posts bail and then flees, he will be hunted down and will forfeit 100% of the money posted. If somebody uses a bail bondsman and then flees, he will be hunted down (same as if he had posted) but will lose no additional money. So how does the commercial bond system encourage more people to show for trial (since the penalties for not showing are lower under the commercial system)?

    Finally, you claim that the current system costs the taxpayers $5 million a year (without citing any source) but then you claim that the current system “has turned the court system into a HUGE money make for the city”.

    How can the current system both be a money drain and a “HUGE money make”? This doesn’t make sense.

  21. Justin says:

    I just learned my lesson about not writing my response in Word and copying it over. I will retype it shortly but Bruce, can you please email me your address so that I can forward something for you to post?

  22. Doug says:

    I have come to the conclusion there is no use in trying to make y’all non-believer’s understand.

    If you want to let them take away your constitutional right to a surety, just keep on believing they are doing you a favor denying you another freedom of choice. It seems to be working for Obama care.

    They are taking away your right to life, librty, due process *(i.e. Patriot Act , N.D.A.A., IRS attacking political adversaries), next will be your free speech, so enjoy being able to openly discuss not having this freedom of choice while you can, because freedom of the press is already under attack (I.e. *wire tapping scandal involving the Obama administration) They want your right of choice to own and posses a firearm too. So, if your gonna just roll over and let them take away your constitutional rights, then your deserve to live under their dictatorship. I would advise any patriots that actually believe in the constitution and preserving their rights as an American to get the hell out of that state before they use their Patriot Act against you. Ironic they call it that, when it actually targets people who would fight for their constitutional rights…huh.

    You don’t deserve a right to choose! You should shut up and go back to sleep. Your leaders will decide what is in your best intrest from now on, and the rest of the 46 state will applaude you for leading the way to a totalitarian life style where American freedom used to live. You know, the land of the “FREE”and the home of the brave!

    You will all be free when you have nothing left to lose.

  23. Justin says:

    First, Doug, please do not act like this. The other side wants to label us as radicals who are out of date with society. We must continue to show that the Commercial Surety industry is not the same people that existed in the 50’-60’s, just like every other judicial/legal industry. We must pointout how these programs are failures and are doing the exact same things that bail agents were criticized for – in fact one of the reasons that bail agents were run out of Wisconsin was because they sat with judges and recommended bond sizes to judges. Isn’t it ironic that now that exactly what we get for $5 million per year? It was improper when bail agents did it and its improper when Pretrial programs do it….you should NOT be able to monitor the same people that you are creating recommendations on.
    Tom Tom Tom, I know that you are much smart and much better than this last post. Do you really think that I would lie when in such an open data era? The real question is not whether these claims are accurate but rather, does their accuracy impact your position? My guess is that there is nothing that can be done to validate the Commercial Surety industry to you.
    http://county.milwaukee.gov/ImageLibrary/User/bpariseau/2012-Recommended-Operating-Bud/2012MilwaukeeCountyExecutiveRe.pdf
    http://county.milwaukee.gov/ImageLibrary/User/bpariseau/2013-Adopted-Operating-Budget/2900-Courts-PreTrialServices.pdf
    http://county.milwaukee.gov/ImageLibrary/User/bpariseau/2012-Recommended-Operating-Bud/2900-Courts-PreTrialServices.pdf
    So, now that I have the links to the budgets for the courts and pretrial programs…can we stop pretending like I am stating things that are not accurate? You can challenge my ideas but my data is FACT.
    As for trying to pick apart the word “post” and “pay”, I have to say that it’s the single WORST thing I have ever heard. Have you EVER spoken with a family that had to part with $5,000 for 6 months? They sure don’t feel that its better. Do they get interest? LOL, not a chance. Do they really get the money back? Not really, the Utah study showed that those people that deposit money directly with the court pay a higher amount of fines and costs than those that do not. The money that is seized for court fees, fines, costs, attorney fees, incarceration fees, and restitution is typically NOT the accused’s money? It is the family’s money, so this system punished the family of the accused more than the actual accused. Why not allow the people to pay a bail agent and save the other $4,500?
    This is a SEPARATE BUT EQUAL system. Rich people do not use these systems. They look at their money as “best use” and it is not the best use to place $10,000 with the court. So how can we say that this system is good for the indigent?
    If for a second we were talking about fully funding the system to be able to do everything it needs to do, then we would be looking at a system close to Washington DC, which has an annual budget of $60 million. Washington DC has a similar population to Milwaukee. Of the $5 million in budget this year for Milwaukee’s system, $4.5 million comes from tax levies….when you have a school system that had $5 million cut from the budget last year, that money could be used elsewhere.
    What is being done to get money back from those people that use the system? What is Milwaukee’s current conviction rate? I looked but could not find an exact number but most likely around 70%. If you really want to change the system, then you need to make some sort of penalty for the prosecutors prosecuting a person with little or no evidence or likelihood of conviction. Too frequently people are prosecuted and forced to take a plea because the state will overwhelm them.
    How about attorney’s profiting from the system? $297 billion is spent on attorneys every year, don’t you think that is significantly MORE than Commercial Bonding, which is estimated at $700 million. There are $2 billion spent every year on drug and alcohol testing. So I would have to say that this is the epitome of DISIGENUOUS because Commercial Surety is not even a drop in the bucket of money spent in this system and legal representation has a much larger impact on overall amount of time in spent in jail than anything else. What about Collect Calls? That is the biggest monopoly scam in the world and they pay off the jails to be able to charge $15 for the first minute. Inmate Collect Calls are a $1 billion market.
    http://www.ibisworld.com/industry/default.aspx?indid=1389
    http://www.ibisworld.com/industry/bail-bond-services.html
    So, I have to agree with Doug that most of these issues are more about differences in politics than anything else. But NO ONE will tell me how any of this will hurt the citizens of Wisconsin. How will they be hurt by having another option? If you say that profit should not be in the judicial system then that should be for ALL aspects of the system – which means that the government should provide EQUAL representation to ALL people and not allow the rich to get better attorneys. You can’t say that only 1 portion of the system should be public.
    This is a good article summing up the difference between the private sector and the government handling industries;
    http://nontrivialpursuits.org/bureaucratic_waste.htm
    This is why the citizens of Wisconsin will demand this bill;
    http://www.cato.org/blog/government-efficiency
    And based on previous request, here is the way that this system has a double standard and fails the citizens. Either you are all in and do not cave to public pressure or you follow the citizen’s desires and pay the costs.
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/pretrial-release-system-takes-hit-tp40r57-138459384.html

  24. Tom D says:

    Justin, are you saying that if Wisconsin legalizes bail bondsmen, that the entire “Pretrial Services” budget simply goes away?

    One thing this department does is provide information needed to set bail. If this department goes away, how does the judge set bail?

    The department also does drug testing. If it goes away, who does the drug testing and how is it funded?

    You say this is just another option for people to use, and that the bail decision itself won’t change, but if judges no longer have access to the information that Pretrial Services now provides, I can’t see how it would NOT change.

    And no, people don’t get interest on money posted as bail, but I don’t get any real interest on money I have in the bank these days, either. In the example you gave ($5,000 bail held for 6 months), the interest lost at 1% (an extraordinarily high rate these days) comes to $25 vs $500 that a bail bondsman would take. And would a bail bondsman really even be interested a puny $500 premium or would that prisoner have to come up with $5,000 on his own anyway?

    By the way, the net cost of Pretrial Services is under $4.5 million ($4,473,563 in 2013), not the $5 million you have been claiming.

    And even if the COUNTY saves this money, there is no way the savings could find their way back into the CITY schools, since the county and the city have different sets of taxpayers.

  25. Justin says:

    Tom, come on, you know that I didn’t say that. I do believe that the review process does have a place in the system but that would operate a much low budget demand. I also believe that the bail bond recommendation MUST completely autonomous from any other department, so that politics do not play a part in their recommendation.
    If I am not mistaken, the drug testing is actually handled by an outside company (Justice Point @ $350k)…either way, in my opinion, drug testing is a failure in most court systems. It is setup to create modern day slavery in our court system. It is factual that the drug use in inner cities is extremely high, so drug testing people that are not charged with drug related crimes is just setting them up for failure. If the court really wants to make an impact, they would require rehab and not just drug testing and here is why;
    http://northpotomac.patch.com/articles/drug-tester-sentenced-for-taking-bribes-for-bogus-results
    But either way, you are talking about a relatively small portion of the overall number of offenders come out of the court system. It would be GREAT if this was the most serious problem to solve. Milwaukee Pretrial claims to save 10,000 bed days per year on this program but like many things, there is no proof that the claimed savings was actualized or proof of how they calculated this savings.
    ******it appears that JusticePoint is profiting over $500,000 per year in Milwaukee alone. ******
    http://justicepoint.nationbuilder.com/
    As for bond sizes, I know that $500 may not seem like a lot to you but its sure a lot to me and everyone that I know. The idea that Commercial Surety does not handle small bonds is FALSE & Fabricated. There is 1 city where this is a problem and that is New York. New York has this problem because the release process and not because the Commercial industry. In New York, it takes anywhere from 12-24 hours to submit a surety bond and each bond requires a judge’s approval….New York also limits any additional fees, so when broken down, the Bail Agent would be making less than minimum wage. I understand the concern from the citizen’s side but the true solution would be to cut through the “red tape” and make it easier to submit the bond. In fact, most bail agents that I have meet and known, actually make their living on these small bonds. My organizations actually recommend that $5,000 be the average bond size, which means that half of the bonds set should actually be SMALLER than that. With a bond size of $5,000, the court system will actually maximize release rates and ensure maximum conformity. Based on my knowledge of the Milwaukee system, this would actually be an overall reduction in bond setting schedules; which would also benefit the citizens.
    LOL….LOL…LOL….so know that I post the budget, you want to split hairs between “Gross” cost and “Net” costs. Come on, Wisconsin is the only state that I know of that actually has “tax levies” for funding the remaining $4.5 million…that should offend ALL CITIZENS of Wisconsin. This program is someone forcing their moral desires on the entire public. I would place a friendly wager on the idea that the legislators and county politicians could not find a way to get that money into the school system if the public demanded it.
    So, now that we are down to defending this system over small hairs. Can we please talk about how passing this bill would hurt the citizens? I have asked a half dozen times and NO ONE can present an answer.
    Once again, I understand that those that support these programs are simply doing what they believe is best and part of this decision comes down to larger political beliefs about government and what their roll should be in systems. No one has ever questioned the support that is claimed by these programs…why do attorneys support Pretrial Welfare Programs? Do you think it’s because they care about public v private debates, LOL, no way…they care because they are always fighting for the best for their clients. If a defense attorney supports it, then it’s probably not the best for the victim because the attorney does not get paid by the victim. Have you ever thought that the ABA supports this program because it frees up money for their members to charge and obtain higher fees? Every penny that is paid to someone else during the pretrial process is 1 less penny that an attorney can charge and they do NOT like to finance their fees. What is done by any of these groups to bring down the cost of QUALITY legal representation? What about judge’s why do they care? What about Probation, why does probation care? Well, how about the fact that many of these programs have grown out of probation departments which means a HUGE increase in funding and career advancement. When you are the head of a Government department, you have to grow your department to get more money. Well, you can’t go out and have people commit more crimes, so how about getting into the bonding business.
    If you believe that the Government should own and control private businesses, then I understand support of these programs but where are the checks and balances? The reason that we can have these systems and still maintain our FREEDOM’s is because of the autonomy of the each process. The attorney is not reliant upon the court, the jury is not reliant upon the judge, and the release mechanism should not be reliant upon the judge or court. Each citizen has the constitutional right to choice. Why do we have pawn shops? Because we have the right to sell our property. No person should be required to use any 1 system or provider, its called a monopoly and it doesn’t matter who controls the monopoly…when there is a monopoly, it’s the citizens that are punished. Right now the government has a monopoly on Pre-trial releases in Wisconsin.

  26. Travis says:

    I don’t care whether we have bail bond companies. There is good and bad with them. This is a good discussion.

    Minnesota has them and their system has 1/3 the prison population of Wisconsin with a comparable but smaller population. That isn’t because people get out on bail, it’s for many other reasons. I point out Minnesota has them because criminal justice professionals often say Wisconsin should be more like Minnesota in criminal justice. I agree with that, but am neutral on whether that means bail bond companies make sense here.

    I don’t like that poor people can never afford the 10% to pay to get out in Minnesota, but getting out is good. Getting out is always good. I imagine if Wisconsin had this system, judges would simply increase what used to be a $1000 cash bond to $10000, so maybe it wouldn’t actually help poor people and would just change who gets to keep the money at the end of a case in the event of a conviction.

    In Wisconsin, poor people pay more and, in theory, it is refunded. However, judges are well aware of how much money a defendant has posted. If the defendant is convicted of anything, there may be a fine and/or court costs. Somehow those fines/court costs just seem to magically add up to what the defendant has posted. It is big money for the court system, no doubt.

    So I do think there is truth to the argument that defendants in Wisconsin, if convicted, end up never getting back their cash bond posted. It goes to the court system. The 10% that defendants post in Minnesota does not go to the court system. It goes to a business that got the defendant out of jail.

    I share the concerns about potential for corruption. I also am not a fan of boilerplate legislation being drafted by out of state interests and really don’t like how our politicians take these templates and run with them without really making the case for how the legislation makes Wisconsin a better place to live.

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