Bailbondsmen oppose Nevada pre-trial release program
While those participating in the pilot pre-trial release program say it’s doing what it’s intended to do — get people who can safely be released out of jail without bail — the program is strongly opposed by the bailbond companies.
Richard Justin of Justin Brothers Bailbonds in Reno and Carson City says the pilot program alone has just about put him out of business.
“I went from writing 50 bonds a month to maybe doing four or five,” he said.
He said the people being released on their own recognizance are his and other bondsmen’s bread and butter and that revenue enables him to provide bail for riskier defendants.
—Richard JustinJustin Brothers Bailbonds
He compared it to the Obamacare requirement healthy people buy insurance to help cover the cost of insuring sick people. He said the bailable defendants help cover the risk of releasing those other defendants.
“They’re leaving us the worst of the worst and letting out the people who can afford bail,” he said.
But Justin said beyond his profit margin, there are some serious issues with the courts taking over a large share of the role bailbond companies play.
First, he said that shifts the cost of assessing defendants and monitoring them from bailbond companies to the state and counties. He said they’ll have to hire the people to do the assessments and to follow up on those who fail to appear for court. He said when one of his people fails to appear, he and his brother are out looking for them so they don’t lose the bond they posted. He said law enforcement and the courts don’t do that, that they only catch most of those people when they commit another crime or get stopped for a traffic violation.
He said doing what he and other bailbondsmen do is going to cost the state and counties a lot.
“My brother and me may have a thousand people out so you’re throwing a thousand people on pre-trial services,” he said. “It would shift all that to a public cost.”
He also questioned the “contracts” people being released on OR must sign saying that’s a person not yet convicted of a crime who has to agree to conditions like allowing his home to be searched or being drug tested.
“If I’m out on bail, there’s no pressure on me to plead to anything,” he said. “I’m not going to plead to a lesser charge because I want to get out of jail.”
He said those issues implicate defendants’ constitutional rights.
“They’re holding them hostage until they sign their pre-trial release agreement,” he said.