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Bail Bondsmen Would Cash In at Taxpayers’ Expense As Pre-Trial Release Is Scaled Back

| April 23, 2011

No bond, no pre-trial release. (Casey Serin)

Despite fierce opposition from counties, a House committee Thursday approved a bill that would place new restrictions on jail pretrial-release programs — and boost business for the bail-bond industry.

The measure (HB 1379) is designed to spur more criminal defendants to post bonds to get out of jail, instead of relying on county-run pretrial release programs.

Sponsor Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, said he doesn’t think government programs should compete with private bail-bond agencies, especially when criminal defendants can afford to post bonds.

“The people who work as bail-bondsmen are small businesspeople,” Dorworth said. “These are not international conglomerates.”

But county officials blasted the proposal, contending it would lead to increased costs for taxpayers as more people can’t get out of jail.

“We know that this bill is going to increase costs to counties and sheriffs,” said Sarrah Carroll, a lobbyist for the Florida Association of Counties.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill 10-8 after Dorworth proposed an amendment that narrowed its effects. The Senate is working on a similar measure (SB 372).

With the amendment, the bill would affect pretrial-release programs in counties with 350,000 or more residents, though some defendants in other areas would be ineligible for pretrial release if they have previously failed to make required court appearances. Also, it would exempt low-income people who might not be able to afford bonds.

Pre-trial release programs are offered in 28 counties and do not receive state money, according to a House staff analysis. In the programs, defendants are released without posting bonds and face supervision that can include electronic monitoring.

County officials from various parts of the state attended Thursday’s meeting, with Pinellas Sheriff Jim Coats saying his county typically has 900 to 1,000 people out of jail on early release. Coats said the bill would increase the county’s costs if some of those people stayed in jail.
“Stand up people,” Coats implored the committee members. “Do what’s right.”

But bill supporters pointed to favoring the private sector over government, with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, saying pretrial-release programs can become a “cesspool for patronage.”

“Apparently, (for) some people here, the phrase ‘for profit’ has become an insult,” Dorworth said.

–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida

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9 Responses for “Bail Bondsmen Would Cash In at Taxpayers’ Expense As Pre-Trial Release Is Scaled Back”

  1. elaygee says:

    Every one of you who voted for these Creepublican Teabaggers should be forced to pay double taxes to make up for the damage they will cause while running our state.

  2. Dorothea says:

    Florida Republicans do it again. Stick it to the poor, who can’t afford bail and stick it to the local governments to shoulder the financial impact of paying to keep the poor, who haven’t been found guilty of anything, incarcerated.

    Wonder how much the bail bondsmen paid to the election campaigns of these Republican lawmakers so they could feast at the trough of the idiot middle class voters (teabaggers) who voted these lawmakers into office. The voters will now foot the bill for a law that adds no revenue to the state budget. The teabags are so stupid that when a new and/or expanded jail is needed they will blame the ensuing tax increase on county governments, not the lawmakers in state government.

    I will not even go into the jobs lost and the hungry children left behind because a wage earner was needlessly locked up and couldn’t get to work.

  3. Rob says:

    The teagroupies otherwise known as the plainclothes unit of the KKK can’t really complain because the got what they asked for and probably quite a bit more.

  4. Wayne says:

    Pre Trial programs leave the indigent in jail and concentrate on people who have the ability to post bail.

    • If a defendant can afford an attorney they are not provided a public defender.
    • If a defendant can afford food they are not provided food stamps.
    • If a defendant can afford housing then they are not provided with housing.
    • If a defendant can afford insurance then they are not provided with Medicaid.


  5. Dorothea says:

    Wayne, what’s your point? Let the taxpayer’s foot the cost of jail because some accused pot smoker or shop lifter can’t get up the cash to pay bail? Judges release accused inmates ROR all the time and I don’t see where bail bondsmen are suffering financially from this.

    I can’t believe that all those Republican sheriffs in Florida are going along with this. Jails come out of sheriffs’ budgets. There are better ways to spend law enforcement monies.

  6. Jackie says:

    Maybe Jim Saunders should have actually read the propsed bills before writing his article. The bills in fact, make the PTR programs for the criminal defendants who are poor. OMG, and I love the illustration….poor criminal laying on a cell floor next to a toilet while those greedy bondsman make a profit…hellooooo he’s a criminal!!!! What is wrong with you people? You make it seem better to be a criminal than to be a bondsman…you walk amongst us…scary! Hey Dorothea, you won’t believe how much PTR programs are paying for lobbyists, hotel stays in Tallahassee, food, transportation over time for Seriffs and county employees to show up to these meetings! All paid for by us tax payers! In ref to “the hungrey children left behind” comment, he should have thought about that before he decided to commit a CRIME!

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Correction Jackie. Convicted criminals don’t bond out. Pre-trial individuals do. Until then, they are, by definition, innocent–as many will remain once their case is disposed. What would be quite wrong is to reverse the assumption of guilt, as you do here. Scary indeed.

  7. PC Dad says:


    Should the government be providing corporate welfare to every company that can make a big political donation too?

  8. Darrel Luth says:

    You should see what they are trying to do here in Arizona. They are now releasing defendants on their OR and sending them out the door with a GPS Monitor now. If they pass this thing here it will be the end for bail bondsman in Arizona.

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