Wednesday, October 28, 2009

National Association of Counties Supports Taxpayer-Funded Pretrial Release Programs

The National Association of Counties (NACo), a national organization that represents county governments, has partnered with the Pretrial Justice Instiutute (PJI) to provide technical assistance and training to targeted counties to review and assess their pretrial programs and jail population capacity. The partnership is promoted as, "empowering elected county officials," as pretrial justice continues to be an important point of effective county jail population management.

NACo's 2009 "American County Platform" calls for counties to establish alternatives to money bail, such as establishing pretrial services/release programs using taxpayer dollars. The initiative aims to, "reduce wasteful spending and protect more victimization," by releasing criminal defendants back into our communities. Whatever happened to the old addage, "you do the crime, you do the time," by being accountable for your actions??

Let the system be more effective at the front end by working with the private surety bail industry and other criminal justice partners to develop innovative strategies for reducing the jail population without expending more taxpayer dollars.

Accredited has tried unsuccessfully in Orange County, Florida to promote an indigent bond program, where bail agents would release and supervise indigent defendants in our community by having the county pay the agent a flat fee of $100. The agent then assumes all financial and physical liability for that defendant. If the defendant fails to appear, the bail agent pays the county back the $100. It should be a win-win for county governments but instead they would rather spend millions of your tax dollars to release and "supervise" defendants rather than pay a bail agent a $100 to do the same thing! Accredited has also unsuccessfully tried to promote a probation bond program by putting in place a probation bond at the time a defendant is sentenced to probation. If the defendant violates any terms of his probation, the probation bond is already in place and again, the bail agent would release and supervise the defendant pending a hearing on the violation. As the system currently stands, when a defendant violates his/her probation, they are placed on a no bond status and wait weeks in jail to see a Judge for the violation hearing. More tax dollars spent by taking up jail bed days instead of being supervised in the community.

Public policy affects public safety!

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