Thursday, December 31, 2009

How Many Free Pretrial Releases in December?

The month of December 2009 was busy at the Orange County, Florida jail! Yet even as of today, the jail capacity sits at only 84.3 percent - way under population!

Over the month of December 2,414 individuals were arrested - many charged with multiple crimes. How many of these defendants were released free of charge through the jail's pretrial release program? I bet you a good number were.

Below is just a snapshot of the types and number of offenses committed:
  • 109 arrests for failure to appear for a court proceeding
  • 210 arrests for DUI (14 involving personal injury; 9 involving property damage; 16 with prior convictions; one driving with a minor; 10 with balances .15>; 4 with balances .20>)
  • 188 arrests for domestic violence (12 involving hindering communication with law enforcement; 17 by strangulation; 7 against pregnant women)
  • 13 arrests for dating violence
  • 12 arrests for false imprisonment
  • 9 arrests for violating a domestic violence injunction
  • 7 arrests for aggravated assualt/domestic violence
  • 5 arrests for stalking
  • 5 arrests for child abuse
  • 4 arrests for sexual battery (2 involving a child <12)
  • 3 arrests for lewd/lascivious molestation
  • 131 arrests for possession of cannabis (12 with intent to sell/deliver)
  • 91 arrests for possession of cocaine (29 with intent to sell/deliver; 4 for trafficing)
  • 108 arrests for possession of drug paraphernalia
  • 2 arrests for herion
  • 34 arrests for aggravated battery/assault (28 with a weapon)
  • 29 arrests for felony or aggravated battery/assault with great bodily harm
  • 7 arrests for felony battery
  • 7 arrests for assault
  • 90 arrests for battery
  • 37 arrests for battery on law enforcement officer
  • 159 arrests for driving with license suspended (30 suspended as habitual offenders; 9 with license suspended over 4 months)
  • 76 arrests for driving with no valid driver's license
  • 107 arrests for grand theft 3rd degree (28 involving a motor vehicle; 9 with a firearm)
  • 101 arrests for petit theft (39 involving retail; 14 with $100 or more; 5 with prior convictions)
  • 31 arrests for burglary to a conveyance (3 to an occupied conveyance)
  • 42 arrests for burglary to a dwelling/structure (15 to an occupied dwelling/structure)
  • 8 arrests for burglary with assault and battery
  • 36 arrests for tresspassing (29 after a warning; 7 to structure/conveyance)
  • 44 arrests for criminal mischief
  • 16 arrests for loitering or prowling
  • 31 arrests for robbery (17 with a firearm; 3 by sudden snatching)
  • 32 arrests for carrying a concealed firearm/weapon (6 by a convicted felon)
  • 1 arrest for carjacking with a firearm
  • 4 arrests for prostitution
  • 4 arrests for tampering with a witness

How safe do you feel? Would you prefer individuals who commit such crimes be held accountable for their crimes by having some skin in the game for their release? Or would you rather have their release method bankrolled by you and your tax dollars? How stringent do you feel supervision of such defendants should be?

If released under the jail's pretrial release program, supervision most often will come in the form of calling into an automated telephone system with no live person at the other end. The pretrial release officer doesn't meet the defendant's family or friends, visit their home or place of work or do much more than keep a paper file on a defendant's case until the case is over . . . then on to the next defendant! A bail agent on the other hand instills family and friends into the bail contract and may take additional collateral to make sure the defendant appears at all court hearings and stays out of trouble. Very few defendants remain in jail because they can't afford to post a bond. And lets face reality: if you have been in and out of the system yet you sit in jail because your family or friends will no longer bond you out, it must be for a good reason and maybe you deserve to be there!

Today, pretrial release programs function just like the private surety bail industry except the tax payers are paying for the system with little to no accountability for the defendant. What happened to the goal of working with truely indigent defendants who made an honest mistake that resulted in a first-time, non-violent offense? Why would Judges that you elect into office want to release a defendant into such system, particularly when a jail sits at far under capacity? Pretrial release programs have become a version of a government criminal welfare system and once created, will seldom go away!

Let's hope that the 2010 year will bring greater wisdom to our elected officials who approve of and establish such systems. Private enterprise is always better at doing a job than the government and particularly in the field of surety bail. Let your voices be heard!

Happy New Year and blessings for 2010!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Free Pretrial Release in Orange County, Florida

Individuals who commit crimes, both criminal and traffic offenses, have a choice in doing so and if caught, should be held accountable for those offenses. They should have something at stake when released from jail to make them feel pressured to attend their court appearances and resolve their case. Unfortunately, many individuals who commit crimes have been through the justice system several times and know how to work it to their advantage. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes; however, hopefully we will learn from those mistakes and not continue to perpetuate circumstances that get us into trouble.

Release from jail for committing a crime is a right. If you willfully break the law and put yourself and others at risk, you should not just get an easy way out of jail with the hope that you will return. Only individuals who are proven to be indigent and who have committed a non-violent, first-time offense should be given an opportunity to "get out of jail free." Afterall, your tax dollars pay for such release.

Over the course of six weeks (November 1, 2009 through December 5, 2009) 276 defendants were released on your tax dollars after committing a combined 300+ offenses. Of the 276 defendants, 191 were court-ordered to be supervised by the jail's pretrial release program, whereby most of the "supervised" defendants will simply call into an automated telephone answering system; 72 defendants were released on their own recognizance, which means they promise to return for all court hearings; and 13 defendants were released "administratively" by jail staff before the private surety bail industry was successful in getting such release revoked.

Below is a breakout of the offenses committed:

  • 38 DUI's (2 with a balance greater than .20)
  • 34 Battery/domestic violence
  • 34 Possession of cannabis <20
  • 28 Battery
  • 21 Petit theft
  • 21 Driving with no valid driver's license
  • 21 Driving with license suspended/revoked with knowledge
  • 18 Resisting law enforcement officer without violence
  • 11 Trespass
  • 9 Possession of controlled substance
  • 9 Disorderly conduct/intoxication
  • 6 Driving with license suspended
  • 7 Driving with expired driver's license >4 months
  • 5 Possessing/giving alcohol to person <21
  • 4 Criminal mischief
  • 3 Providing false ID to law enforcement
  • 3 Unlawful use of driver's license
  • 3 Possession of cocaine
  • 2 Forgery/fraud
  • 2 Tampering with witness to hinder communication
  • 2 Obtaining medical drugs by fraud
  • 2 Aggravated battery on a pregnant person
  • 2 Destruction of evidence
  • 2 Urinating/defecating in public
  • 2 Trafficking in herion/controlled substance
  • 2 Loitering or prowling
  • 2 Driving with license revoked as a habitual offender
  • 2 Grand theft
  • 2 Burglary
  • 2 Prostitution or lewdness
  • 1 Obstruction by false information
  • 1 Failure to obey lawful order
  • 1 Driver's license suspension for financial responsibility
  • 1 Defrauding an innkeeper (>$300)
  • 1 Tag alteration
  • 1 Obstruction by disguised person
  • 1 Failure to leave property when ordered
  • 1 Open container
  • 1 Introduce contraband into county facility
  • 1 Possession of narcotic equipment
  • 1 Aggravated battery
  • 1 Battery on law enforcement officer
  • 1 Intentional threat to do harm
  • 1 Reckless driving
  • 1 Refusal to sign traffic infraction

Many more individuals have been released since on your tax dollars and will continue to be allowed to do so unless you speak out to your elected officials. You can rest assured that a defendant released on a surety bond has their bail agent watching them and will make sure they attend all court appearances - if not, it is not a dime out of your pocket as the bail agent is completely financially responsible for that defendant.

Let private enterprise do its job and take the burden off of the taxpayer!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Taxpayers Still Paying for Pretrial Release at Orange County, Fl. Jail

Chief Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. revoked "administrative" pretrial release on November 5, 2009, which allowed jail staff to make release decisions without defendants seeing a Judge. However, defendants are still being released into the program by alarming amounts, except this time the Initial Appearance Judges are making that decision. These are not always defendants with no criminal and/or driving offense histories either and more and more defendants charged with domestic violence are being released on your tax dollars with little to no supervision. Such release is not a mechanism that will allow domestic violence survivors to feel safe. Domestic violence is the only crime that increased in Florida this year compared to all other crimes. Domestic violence can happen to any one despite their economic or social status as we have seen all too clearly. So why are so many domestic violence perpetrators being released through a taxpayer-funded system where no one is making sure they are abiding by the court's orders?

Below is a snapshot of names of defendants released by the Judge's order into the pretrial release program during mid-November through early December, as well as the crime(s) they are accused of committing:

  • Kevin Foley - battery/domestic violence
  • Daniel Standingbear - battery/domestic violence; petit theft
  • Christopher Kahn - battery (2 counts)
  • Jorge Irizarry - battery on law enforcement officer; trespass; disorderly conduct
  • Antoneo Hampton - battery
  • Paul Driscoll - battery
  • Denzell Alston - battery
  • Joel Santiago - aggravated battery on a pregnant person
  • Jean Lorius - battery/domestic violence; tampering with witness to hinder communication
  • Michael Stephens - battery
  • Vincent Fiallos - battery/domestic violence; resisting law enforcement officer without violence
  • Charles Wilson - battery on a person 65 years >
  • Freedy Gonzalez - battery/domestic violence
  • Felipe Piva - battery
  • JD Adkins - battery/domestic violence
  • McKenzie Brockington - battery/domestic violence
  • Anil William - battery
  • Felix Fuentes-Morales - battery/domestic violence
  • Kate Huggins - battery
  • Vannia Castillo - battery
  • Randall Mendez - battery; tampering with witness to hinder communication
  • Loretta Thompson - battery
  • Dwayne Jones - battery/domestic violence
  • Luis Machado - battery/domestic violence
  • Pamela Hoover - batterydomestic violence
  • Ghazy Alkhubaizi - battery
  • Karan Applewhite - battery/domestic violence
  • Maurice Herrere - battery/domestic violence
  • Yeleine Ladino - aggravated battery
  • Kiara Rivera - battery/domestic violence
  • Raymond Susino - battery/domestic violence
  • Jenah Schlater - battery/domestic violence
  • Juan Garcia-Rivera - driving with license suspended/revoked with knowledge
  • Wesley Powell - burglary of a conveyance (2 counts)
  • Austin Rivera - burglary of a conveyance (2 counts)
  • Jorge Lopez - petit theft; possession of alcohol by person under 21
  • Julio Martinez - driving with license suspended/revoked with knowledge; driving with no valid driver's license; attaching tag not assigned; unlawful tag alteration; expired driver's license > 4 months; no registration
  • Ernest Murphy - driving with license suspended/revoked with knowledge
  • Shecolby Sims - possession of cannabis <20
  • John Rabuogi - driving with license suspended/revoked with knowledge
  • Mashell Webster - possession of cannabis <20
  • Andre King-Holland - possession of cannabis <20
  • Orlando Rosado - resisting law enforcement officer without violence
  • Tahmere Mitchell - resisting law enforcement officer without violence
  • Frederick Simmons - urinating/defecating in public
  • Chervis Bell - possession of cannabis <20
  • Daniel Evans - possession of cannabis <20
  • Fernando Avila - DUI
  • Quentella Shelton - driving with license suspended/revoked with knowledge; providing false ID to law enforcement
  • Wilmer Morales - driving with no valid driver's license
  • Brian Payne - resisting law enforcement officer without violence; disorderly conduct
  • Kathleen Biernat - petit theft
  • Deja Lawrence - petit theft
  • Shemetrice Tarver - petit theft
  • Philipos Teka - DUI
  • Hector Rivera - uttering forged check
  • Benjamin MacKay - DUI
  • Joseph Baslie - disorderly conduct
  • Darleen McCullough - possession of cocaine; introducing contraband into county facility
  • Luc Mazard - driving with no valid driver's license; no registration
  • Shelisse Morales - grand theft 3rd degree
  • Paul Cano - DUI; possession of cannabis <20
  • Juanita Rudd - disorderly conduct
  • Nocholas Szust - DUI
  • Chad Sullivan - criminal mischief
  • Kelsey Dunbar - DUI
  • Edward Loach - possession of cocaine; destruction of evidence
  • Narada Williams - DUI
  • Annmarie Elswick - intentional threat to do harm
  • Michael Connors - obstruction by false information; resisting law enforcement officer without violence
  • Rafael Guzman - possession of cocaine; unauthorized use/possession of driver's license
  • Felix Perez-silvestre - DUI
  • Jose Alvarado - driving with license suspended/revoked with knowledge
  • Rodlet Andre - driving with license suspended/revoked with knowledge
  • Komal Singh - trespass after warning
  • Melissa White - resisting law enforcement officer without violence
  • Antonio Domicianogomes - failure to leave property when ordered by owner

The release mechanism for many defendants is not being posted in the Clerk's database, so we will keep monitoring to see when and/or why such releases are taking so long to be posted. We will also continue to post the release on recognizance for defendants through the pretrial release program. A request to the jail to obtain the criteria for this type of release was made on December 10, 2009 and as of now, we still have not received it.

The jail's population capacity as of today is 84.3 percent of its overall capacity so continued release of defendants into the pretrial release program and who are NOT charged with a first-time, non-violent offense or truly indigent defendants, is unnecessary since the jail is definitely not over population.

Tell your elected officials to use your tax dollars wisely!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

NAPSA: Be Truthful Regarding Pretrial Release Methods

The National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies (NAPSA) has on the home page of their website a link to an article from the Orlando Sentinel dated September 22, 2009 entitled, "Orange rejects bail bondsmen's criticism of its pre-trial release program." However, NAPSA has intentionally failed to post any subsequent media news articles showing successful lobbying efforts by the private surety bail industry to curtail ineffective and dangerous pretrial release practices at the Orange County, Florida jail.

NAPSA's ruse to use only one article with a title that seems to dismiss claims by the private surety bail industry that pretrial services/release practices are less effective, is evidence that they wish to hide any victories the industry may gain in calling attention to the negatives in the pretrial services industry.

The private surety bail industry nationwide is standing firm in a unified front to show the real public safety consequences and irresponsible use of millions of tax dollars to release and supervise defendants from jail with little to no accountability. NAPSA and like organizations are facing greater scrutiny for their release practices that cater more to criminal defendants than hard working law abiding citizens.

Don't be fooled by their rhetoric! To learn the rest of the story read below:

Judge Perry Agrees to Bail Bond Industry Demands on Pre-Trial Release
posted by David Damron on November 10, 2009 - Orlando Sentinel

"After a legal and political full-court press by bail bond agents, Orange-Osceola Chief Judge Belvin Perry agreed to change the rules governing a pre-trial release program the industry had sought, he said Tuesday.

The judge's move could force an estimated 17 extra Orange County prisoners to spend a night in jail to see a judge the next day. Under Perry's previous order, jail officials could determine if inmates qualified for the program, and release them before a judge reviewed the case. Currently, only inmates who bond out on less-severe crimes can avoid seeing a judge before going back on the street.

The bond industry recently filed a legal challenge to Perry's order governing such programs. In September it paid for 50,000 fliers to be sent to Orange homes arguing that the program released violent criminals from jail without ever seeing a judge.

Perry disagreed, and said that the rules he set up for such programs followed state guidelines, and prisoners who bond out could continue to avoid seeing a judge in many cases. But after consulting with Orange jail officials, Perry said he was comfortable with requiring pre-trial release inmates to see a judge.

Accredited Surety and Casualty Company, the Orlando bail bond agency behind the fight, was pelased with Perry's recent rule change. A company spokeswoman said it, "prohibits jail staff from making any release decisions," and requires anyone not released on bond to have a judge look at their case."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Safer Release Methods in Place at the Orange County Jail vs. Pretrial Services/Release

As of 11/30/2009, there were 1,861 arrests made over a 30-day period in Orange County, Florida. A snapshot of 500 recent defendants booked into the jail over a period of a few days covering the 30-day period, and their associated charges, reveal that crime is not down nor necessarily less violent. Many of the arrested individuals had multiple charges. Prior to November 5, 2009 and before the Chief Judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit reversed himself and amended the administrative order govering release from jail, 34 of the offenses for which these 500 individuals were arrested on were eligible for "administrative pretrial release" whereby jail staff would make a release decision without any judicial involvement.

Based on a citizen and media campaign by the private surety bail industry, and backed by facts showing the types of crimes defendants were being released on without any judicial involvement, the Chief Judge revoked "administrative pretrial release" and ordered that only a judge could release an individual into a pretrial release program in Orange County. The industry had argued that pretrial release programs offer minimal supervision for defendants charged with serious offenses, many of whom had prior criminal histories, and that tax dollars should not be spent to provide a service that private industry does for free with much more successful results. Due to pending legal litigation on behalf of Accredited over such release, someone decided to listen to us.

So you have a better understanding of the types of crimes individuals are continuing to commit in Orange County, Florida, below is a breakdown of such offenses for the snapshot of the 500 arrestees over the course of just a few days:

  • DUI - 58 offenses total, 3 of which included prior arrests
  • DUI manslaughter - 1 offense
  • DUI vehicular homicide - 1 offense
  • Possession of cocaine - 16 offenses total, to include 7 with intent to sell/deliver and 3 with armed possession
  • Possession of cannabis - 43 offenses total, to include 8 with intent to sell/deliver
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia - 27 offenses
  • Possession of controlled substance - 16 offenses total, to include 8 with intent to sell/deliver/traffic
  • Possession of heroin - 4 offenses total, to include 2 with trafficking
  • Buglary of a dwelling - 9 offenses total, to include 2 to an occupied dwelling and 1 with assault in an occupied dwelling
  • Burglary of a structure/conveyance - 12 offenses total, to include 1 to an occupied structure/conveyance and 1 armed burglary
  • Robbery - 8 offenses total, to include 6 with force or a weapon
  • Carrying a concealed weapon/firearm/ammo - 18 offenses total, to include 1 by a minor, 1 with altered serial number, 4 by convicted felons, 3 by convicted felons in commission of a felony, 1 with firearm/ammo in domestic violence context and 1 possession of ammo by convicted felon
  • Carjacking with a firearm - 2 offenses
  • Battery - 18 offenses total, to include 4 on law enforcement/security and 1 felony battery
  • Aggravated battery/assault - 17 offenses total, to include 1 causing permanent disfigurement, 11 with a weapon and 2 on law enforcement with a deadly weapon
  • Assault - 2 offenses
  • Aggravated battery on a pregnant person - 4 offenses
  • Domestic violence - 49 offenses total, to include 4 by strangulation and 2 with hindering communication with law enforcement
  • False imprisonment - 3 offenses
  • Stalking/aggravated stalking - 4 offenses total, to include 1 after an injunction
  • Kidnapping with intent to commit felony - 1 offense
  • Sexual battery - 3 offenses total, to include 1 with a weapon
  • Sexual battery on a child - 3 offenses
  • Show obsence material to a child - 1 offense
  • Lewd/lascivious conduct/molestation - 2 offenses
  • Petit theft - 16 offenses total, to include 4 with prior arrests
  • Retail theft - 2 offenses
  • Dealing in stolen property/pawn broker - 4 offenses
  • Tresspassing - 16 offenses
  • Driving with no valid driver's license - 15 offenses
  • Driving with license suspended/revoked - 57 offenses total, to include 7 with knowledge and 11 habitually revoked
  • Grand theft - 29 offenses total, to include 1 grand theft, 27 grand theft 3rd degree ($300-$5000) and 1 grand theft 1st degree (>$100,000)
  • Reckless driving - 5 offenses
  • Driver's license violation/expired tag/no registration/no endorsement - 9 offenses
  • Threatening a public servant - 1 offense
  • Disorderly conduct/intoxication - 14 offenses
  • Criminal mischief/loitering or prowling - 11 offenses
  • Open container/panhandling - 6 offenses
  • Resiting law enforcment officer - 34 offenses total, to include 2 with violence
  • False reports/ID to law enforcement - 5 offenses
  • Fleeing/eluding law enforcment with lights and sirens - 7 offenses
  • Destruction of evidence - 3 offenses
  • Leaving scene of an accident - 4 offenses
  • Staging motor vehicle crash - 1 offense
  • Fraud/scheme to defraud - 8 offenses total, to include 2 for uttering forged check/bills, 1 defrauding an innkeeper and 1 exploiting the elderly
  • Retailiating against a witness - 1 offense
  • Violation of an injunction - 2 offenses, 1 for repeat violence (non-intimate partner) and 1 for domestic violence
  • Unlicensed health practices - 2 offenses
  • Desertion - 1 offense
  • Prostitution - 1 offense
  • Unlawful use of two-way communication device - 2 offenses
  • Child abuse - 1 offense
  • Attempted murder - 2 offenses
  • Fugitive from justice - 2 offenses
  • Failure to appear - 16 offenses
  • Violation of probation - 32 offenses

Previously individuals arrested for such offenses would be asked if they wanted to get out of jail free or pay a bail agent to get out. In these tough economic times, what do you think the answer would be? But also ask yourself who is responsible for ensuring appearance in court until the case is resolved.

Defendants walking out of the jail under the pretrial release program rarely have face-to-face contact with jail staff and most are usually required to simply call into an automated telephone system for supervision weekly or bi-weekly. In contrast, defendants released on bail are integrally involved with their bail agent and have a network of family and friends involved in the bail contract to ensure compliance and no new law violations. Agents are financially and physicially responsible for defendants they release on bail - they don't show for court, the agent MUST by law pay the FULL bond amont, and not just the premium, back to the court within 60 days. Under a pretrial release program, more of your tax dollars are spent to find, re-arrest, re-book and then go through the court process once again. A excessive use of your tax dollars!

The private surety bail industry is committed to protecting public safety and ensuring the wise use of taxpayer funds. We stand behind you and will help protect you and our families.