Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Support Bills That Ease Pretrial Release Burden

Note: published in the Orlando Sentinel, April 27, 2011

The Orlando Sentinel editorial "Punishing taxpayers" on Saturday was not only condescending to small business owners, but misleading.

House Bill 1379 and Senate Bill 372 simply state that criminals who can afford their own release should pay and not put the burden on taxpayers. The Florida Association of Counties, which derives its money from membership fees using tax dollars, has estimated the impact to counties, if the bills pass, to be between $10 million and $55 million.

FAC and advocates of government-funded release want to hoodwink citizens into thinking these are bad bills because they don't want to downsize the huge bureaucracies they have created. And they have no impact on jail populations.

The Orlando Sentinel should commend, not deride, lawmakers who are trying to remedy this situation. The bills will not only save limited tax dollars but protect public safety as well. The private surety bail industry has a long partnership in the criminal justice system and has proved to be the most effective form of release.

Why? Because defendants who have a financial stake in the game, along with family and friends, tend to think twice about losing their money or collateral. And, they know bail agents will supervise them and re-arrest them if necessary for failing to appear in court or committing a new crime. All on the bail agent's own dime.

Florida legislators should reject the gross inaccuracies being told by advocates of pretrial release programs and protect the taxpayers from further losses.

Melanie Ledgerwood
Accredited Surety and Casualty Company, Inc.,0,4592157,full.story

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