By Michael J. Whitlock
If the filing of a lawsuit in a Houston Federal Court in 2016 was not a sufficient wake-up call to Texas bail agents then perhaps the filing of legislation aimed to put you out of business might do the trick.
I awoke at 4:00 AM this past Wednesday morning to catch a flight to Austin. I wanted to be on time for PBTs first meeting of the year. After a year off, the Texas Legislature was in session and criminal justice reform had been placed on the legislative menu in the form of multiple bills. To my surprise this critical meeting was poorly attended with only the usual suspects taking time away from their businesses to show. The usual suspects being most of the PBT Board of Directors, the associations lobbyists and surety guys like me who traveled from out of state to attend this very important strategy meeting.
Our adversaries have had no trouble organizing and raising sufficient revenue to file lawsuits all over the country and engage legislators on filing offender-friendly legislation. Why then, are so many bail agents showing so little interest in participating in the protection of their livelihood?
My self and many others have been sporting chainmail for the last few years fighting battles all over the country to preserve the commercial bail industry. Like any war, it must be sufficiently financed. Money and resources are critical to success. In Texas, with its 254 counties, a relationship with your local legislator who understands your business and appreciates your contributions to the criminal justice system is worth more than money. This resource cannot be tapped if you do not make yourself available to your state association, the Professional Bondsmen of Texas.
Subsequent to the federal suit being filed in Houston, Harris County bail agents report business is down as much as 75%. Houston has a problem and that problem could come to your county soon if we are not successful in derailing uniformed legislation. Please reach out to PBT today. Write them a check and ask how you can help. We know the value commercial bail agents bring to the criminal justice system. We need to work as a team to educate legislators and the public who might not yet fully appreciate the work we do and the harm that would be brought to Texas public safety should our participation be reduced or eliminated.
The Next Membership Meeting is April 26, 2017
The bail industry, already under siege because of changes in the pretrial release system for people charged with crimes, says it will be in a fight for its economic life when the state Legislature convenes Tuesday.
1306-A West Anderson Lane
Austin, TX 78757
Toll Free: 1-866-804-0789
Joe McCullough, Executive Director