If You Want To Reform the Criminal Justice System Why Not Ask a Bondsman?

September 27, 2018
by Eric Granof

It is a Wednesday morning and I just finished reading another report, this time from Los Angeles County, providing bail reform recommendations to the LA County Supervisors. As usual, the report was full of the typical bail reform talking points and recommendations. The “next steps” portion of the report outlined best pretrial practices around the country (none of which involved bail). It did however involve the hiring of many high-priced consultants and attending lots of workshops with objective advocacy groups like the Pretrial Justice Institute and the Mac Arthur Foundation (two organizations that will surely provide a non-biased approach to their recommendations…NOT). The final recommendations…create a “robust” pretrial services agency to solve the problem. Of course, in order to do this you must first develop a pilot program (which doesn’t have a bail option), fund it with tax dollars, and then wait for the jails to magically empty and the criminals to be cured of their evil deeds.

It is at this point that I am really confused about these recommendations. Los Angeles County already has a pretrial services agency to handle the needs of the indigent and those with special circumstances. If there is a problem in the jails and there are too many indigent defendants sitting there, isn’t that an issue with the current pretrial system. If the bail industry, as they say, only helps people with money, and pretrial services is supposed to handle the indigent, then why is the bail industry being scrutinized for there being poor people in jail. It seems to me that the reform that needs to happen isn’t with bail, but rather with the current government funded pretrial services agencies that seem to be failing at their one goal…make sure that the indigent aren’t languishing away in jail for being poor.

That point aside, something else really bothers me about this report, and pretty much every other report that these bail reform advocates produce. At no time ever do these studies address or study the effectiveness of bail. At no time ever do these reports talk about their extensive interviews with actual bondsmen and what it is they do. All these reports do is plainly and unequivocally state without proof or evidence that bail agents are evil, greedy and the system is unfair. They assign all the ills of the criminal justice system to the bail industry all to justify their plans to eliminate it and replace it with their own system.

Maybe one day a researcher will have the insight and courage to approach bail reform in a more honest and effective manner. Maybe one day, someone will actually look at the problems in our criminal justice system in a way that actually solves them. Just saying that the bail industry is bad, that jails are crowded, and the system is unfair to the poor and people of color because of bail does nothing to solve the problem. Jails are crowded because people commit crimes. It is just that simple. If you want to lower the populations in the jails you have two options. Option 1: Recategorize the crimes people are committing and make them NOT crimes (Bail Reform’s Approach). Option 2: Find out why people are committing crimes in the first place and try to solve that problem. Based on these two options, which do you think is the best way to lower jail populations and keep the public safe?

If our legislators truly want to fix the criminal justice system, they need to involve all parties that have knowledge, insight and experience. Pointing the finger at the bail industry and saying that eliminating bail will solve all the problems, is not a real solution. It is an emotional and ideological argument that has no bearing on the reality of the system. Think about it, bail is the most common way people get out of jail. Let’s go and eliminate it…and what do you think happens. Either your jails fill up because no one can get out fast enough…or you let everyone out including the bad guys and hope that they show up for court and don’t hurt someone in the meantime. There really is no good outcome if you eliminate bail.

Does the system need reform? Absolutely. Do the indigent need special assistance from pretrial services? Yes, no bail agent will ever argue with that. Does eliminating the bail industry solve the problem? NO. It shouldn’t be so hard to reform the criminal justice system in a way that keeps our communities safe while balancing the rights and safety of both the accused and the victim. It really isn’t rocket science. Is the bail system perfect? No it isn’t, but it does work as intended, and does a pretty good job. But then again, I didn’t have to do a lot of research around that question.. all I had to do was ask a bondsmen. Maybe our decision makers should do the same.

Eric Granof is the Vice President of Corporate Communications for AIA Surety.

Meet our Team of Bondsman

September 8, 2018
by Connie Allbritton

We have several very experienced bondsman working for Big Red Bail Bonds. Most of us are family. I have been a bondsman for about 24 years. I am the Treasurer for the Oklahoma Bondsman Association. I have 2 sons, a daughter-in-law, 2 nieces and a cousin who are bondsman that work for us. We also have several agents who post for us in other counties.

Kim Ligons is my niece. She has worked here for over 6 years. She runs the Norman office. She is also a Licensed Bail Enforcement Agent. She loves bounty hunting. When she isn’t working you will find her at one of her daughters softball games or her sons T-ball games.

Lacey Griffith is Kim’s baby sister and also works in the Norman office. She is the youngest bondsman we have and she is also a licensed BE agent. She doesn’t love it as much as her sister though. She loves making things and playing softball. She is always working on some craft project or hanging out with her niece and nephews. If she’s not at one of her games she is at one of their ballgames.

Dustin Henry is my son. He runs our McClain County Office in Purcell. He owned and operated his own business in Chickasha before he became a bondsman. He often brings his 1 year old daughter to work with him. She is very popular at the courthouse. He has been a bondsman for about 5 years and is also a licensed BE Agent.

Emily Henry is Dustin’s wife and she is also an RN so she doesn’t have as much time for writing bonds as she did. We miss having her around. Dustin misses her organizing his office. Having a 1 year old and a full time job doesn’t leave her much free time.

Chris Allbritton also my son, writes bonds in Grady County which is where he lives. He is also a full time Firefighter in Yukon. He is an avid hunter and fisherman and the Father of a 21 month old boy. Who is as cute as he can be. He is also a licensed BE Agent.

Terry Griffith is a former Norman High School Football Coach and became a bondsman when he retired. He has spent most of the last 1 1/2 years running the family farm in Calumet.

Chuck Siess is my husband and our newest bondsman. He is going to retire from Tinker AFB early next year and will divide his time between bail bonds, his landlord duties and his woodworking projects.

You can see their pictures on the “Meet the team” page on our website.

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