Friday, March 11, 2011

Florida Association of Counties Oppose Limiting Tax Dollars for Release

The Florida Association of Counties (FAC) issued a "Call to Action" today stating it opposes Florida's pretrial release bills, SB0372 and HB1379.

The FAC alert states that any legislation that "limits pretrial agencies' ability to effectively supervise pretrial defendants using locally accepted conditions of release," will be opposed.

Well SB0372 nor HB1379 in any way limits pretrial agencies from effectively supervising defendants.  The bills simply state that if a defendant is not indigent and eligible for the services of a public defender, they shouldn't be released on the taxpayers' dime.  As it is, Florida taxpayers shell out $30 million per year to fund government-funded pretrial services programs, even for defendants who can and should be paying their own way.

The FAC alert went on to say that "pretrial agencies save tax dollars by allowing defendants who cannot afford bond to remain in the community and keep the community ties that encourage law abiding behavior." 

SB0372 and HB1379 doesn't change that scenario at all.  Those defendants who can demonstrate to the court that they are indigent and cannot afford a bond, will still be eligible to be released into a pretrial services program.

The FAC alert also states that "such [legislative] changes would result in an added expense to the taxpayer while more individuals wait in jail and increase the likelihood for jail overcrowding."  This statement is unfounded.

A recent report by the Florida Legislator's oversight arm for pretrial services programs, confirmed this assertion as false.  They examined the 28 Florida counties that have a pretrial services program with the 39 counties that don't have a pretrial services program.  This independent analysis concluded that, "there appears to be no correlation between counties' occupancy rate and whether or not they have a program."

This analysis refutes the notion that pretrial services agencies keep jail populations in check - they do not. 

We would ask that FAC review these reports from the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability before issuing an alert stating inaccurate facts and opposing legislation that would take the financial burden off of taxpayers.

1 comment:

  1. Just food for thought: The Fl. Association of Counties is in a fact a NON-Governmental Agency, it is simply an SEMI-PRIVATE Association that offers all 67 Counties their services of being there legislation watchdogs and universal lobby in exchange of the annual membership dues paid to them by each County. Each County pays an annual membership fee based on population. the important thing here is this: EACH COUNTY PAYS THE ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP FEE from their local Tax Dollar Revenues and the membership is NOT mandated by any County, it IS UP TO EACH COUNTIES COMMISSIONERS to vote for or against paying to be a be a member each year. The point now becomes that every Bail Agency is a local community business that employs, that pays taxes locally, that is a positive ecomomic impact locally and that provides JOBS locally in an era where Counties are struggling to GROW JOBS. That being said each Bail Agency in each County is having THEIR OWN BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS un-intentionally facilitate the threat of business survival and Taxpayer money wastes thru overblown and ill-used PTR programs they are Lobbying FOR, while using each Bail Agency Owners and local Citizens OWN TAX MONEY TO DO SO.
    I am calling on every Bail Agent to contact their local Commissioners to compell the same to VOTE AGAINST paying precious Tax Dollars for a paid membership at their next renewal date with the Florida Assoc. Of Counties. In Pasco the annual Dues are more than $45,000 annually! My County of Pasco could hire THEIR OWN Lobbyists or watchdog for this money and dictate what is unique and needed for PASCO....If more Counties went in this direction they would lose nothing, gain independence and stop this out of control Semi-PRIVATE LOBBY While using LOCAL TAX DOLLARS from pursuing the beliefs of inexperienced, mediocre income earning Assoc. of Counties Employees own agendas who have little or no experience with Criminal Justice, Public Safety, Law Enforcement, Jails and population of the same and what to do when one becomes a Fugitive! With less than 500k in population in Pasco the annual dues are $45,000---imagine what Broward, Dade, Orange, Duval, Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Leon pay with populations that dwarf Pasco's.....Now imagine 67 Counties paying into this bully group......Millions of Dollars of LOCAL TAX REVENUES are being collected by this Semi-PRIVATE ASSOCIATION......WAKE UP BAIL AGENTS and get in the game TONITE, not next week or next month or you will surely not be in the "game" in the not to distant future, and this MOSTLY PRIVATE GROUP is going to be a large reason why you are not anymore while they do so WITH YOUR LOCAL PROPERTY TAXES YOU PAID TO YOUR COMMISSIONERS ON YOUR HOME!----Pasco Bail Agent