Friday, October 8, 2010

Private Surety Bail at Work

AccreditedBail would like to share an example of what bail agents across this country do to ensure that defendants who are released on bail and fail to appear, ultimately answer to the criminal justice system. This is why private surety bail works at no cost to the taxpayer! 

Read the story online at

St. Petersburg Times - Bondsman makes it his mission to catch one particular bail jumper

CLEARWATER — If you watch the Tampa Bay Rays on television, you've probably seen him. Bald head. Olive skin. Downcast eyes. Wanted for beating up a woman, among other dirty deeds.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is looking for Brian Andrew Word, but perhaps not nearly as intensely as Al Estes Bail Bonds Inc. It's spending $1,400 a month on TV ads featuring Word during all Rays games and offering $7,500 for information leading to his arrest.

"He's a menace to society," said Al Estes Sr. He's dangerous, Estes said, especially to women. Still, he's not the worst the bail bondsman has run across.

So why is he so focused on this guy?

There's the money. Estes stands to lose nearly $100,000 if Word doesn't turn up, though it wouldn't be the first time he's lost money on a bail jumper.

He tells every customer who comes through his office: You might make mistakes, you might be addicted or dishonest, but you don't ignore your court date.

Don't make him come after you. Because he will.

"We're going to get him," said Estes, 77 years old and not afraid of a slick, 6-foot, 41-year-old "good-looking party guy" who apparently took the old man for a fool.

One day in October 2009, a lawyer called Estes' office seeking help for Word, arrested on charges of battery by strangulation, residential burglary and other charges connected to a dispute with Word's former girlfriend. It wasn't Word's first battery arrest.

Estes agreed to bail out Word if someone would vouch for him. Soon, Word's mother, Milene Johnson, showed up. Estes has good luck when mothers get involved. People rarely skip town and leave their mothers to deal with bail bondsmen.

The longer Word is a fugitive, the more Estes Sr. stands to lose. Estes had to pay almost $100,000 to the court since Word missed a February court date, but if he catches Word within two years, he'll get at least half of the amount back. After two years, Estes gets nothing.

Post Conviction Bond - An Innovative Partnership with the Private Surety Bail Industry

Many states across the country are grappling with prison overcrowding and the rising cost of incarceration.  As a result, convicted prisoners may be released from their sentences early and return to the public realm.  Naturally, such releases raise questions regarding public safety.

National studies continue to show that the private surety bail industry is the most effective and efficient method of pretrial release.  That's because the industry is financially and physically responsible for defendants they release on bail and instill a network of the defendant's family and friends into the bail contract.  All parties together become accountable for the defendant's appearance in court and adherence to release conditions.  This same concept can be applied to supervising and being responsible for convicted prisoners released early from prison.

When a prisoner is released from prison prior to the completion of their sentence, they are released on parole.  Conditions of parole often include things such as obeying the law, refraining from drug and alcohol use, avoiding contact with the parolee's victims, obtaining employment, and maintaining required contacts with a parole officer.  With the posting of a post conviction bond, the bail agent would work in partnership with the parole officer by financially ensuring the paroled prisoner complies with the terms of parole. 
The same principles as with a pretrial release bond would be in place with a post conviction bond: if the parolee fails to comply with any terms of parole, the court will order the bond forfeited and issue a warrant for arrest.  The bail agent then has a certain amount of time to locate the parolee and return him/her back to the custody of the court.  If the bail agent is unable to return the parolee back to the court, a financial penalty equal to the full amount of the bond would have to be paid to the court by the bail agent. 

National studies have shown that pretrial defendants released on private surety bail are less likely to commit crimes while out on bail.  The industry believes our participation with the post conviction bond will have the same results, which is a win-win for the taxpayers and a direct affect on public safety. 

Some states are already allowing the use of post conviction bonds with great success.  It is a great resource that the private surety bail industry can provide.  We hope that other states will consider using such bonds in the future.