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Posted on September 25, 2015

Bail bond agent is entitled to make a profit

Gerald A. Madrid: Bail bond agent is entitled to make a profit


After reading your Sept. 5, 2015 editorial on “fairness in bail,” I felt absolutely compelled to respond. It appears that the main focus of your editorial is the idea of fairness in our judicial system.

You say that the wealthy can buy their way out of jail while the poor remain incarcerated for weeks or months awaiting their day in court. Yes, that statement may be partially true; but because someone contracts with a bail bondsman doesn’t mean he is wealthy. As a matter of fact, almost all of a bail bondsman’s clients can in some way be considered indigent. The truly wealthy have their own cash or property and don’t need a bail bondsman.

There is also this notion that the poor are in jail because of the bail bond industry, and nothing can be further from the truth. Many of the people in custody have very low bonds and are not being bonded out or released by the judge, quite often because their families are tired of dealing with bad behavior. Again, the bondsmen get blamed for the “poor” being in jail.

Fairness is a term that is open to many different interpretations and what is fair to one person is not fair to another. Who determines fairness in society and how it is determined is open to huge debate.

Is it fair that these same “poor” people are not able to hire a high-priced powerful private attorney and end up with a public defender? It appears to me that this is the same concept, but I never hear any criticism of the private defense bar because they are only representing the clients who can pay them.

However, because a bail bondsman charges a fee for his service, we are accused of taking advantage of the poor. The bail agent is the only person in the entire judicial system that takes on any risk, and so we are entitled to charge for our service. Just like when a person buys an insurance policy, the insurance company charges a fee (premium) for the risk of insuring that person, and so is that unfair as well? After all, bail is a form of insurance and should be treated as such.

Your editorial also mentions Sen. Peter Wirth’s proposed constitutional amendment to allow a judge to hold someone in jail indefinitely without bond. Senator Wirth is selling this idea as “community safety,” when in fact it is the opposite. If the amendment were to pass, there will be those people will be held in custody for months on end and everyone else will be released on nothing more than a promise to appear in court.

Talk about encouraging crime and lawlessness; let this amendment go through and that’s exactly what will happen. There will be no secured bonds posted, fewer people appearing in court and no one looking for those who don’t appear. Seems to me that this will be unfair to the taxpayer who will ultimately pick up the tab.

Finally, the bail bond industry is a very important and necessary part of our judicial system. The concept of bail is deeply rooted in our Constitution and if administered properly, will work.

Private bail provides the security and guarantee that no one else does, provides hundreds of jobs for New Mexicans, pay millions of dollars in taxes and operates at its own risk. The bail bond agent, if he does a good job, is entitled to make a profit; and if he doesn’t do a good job, gets put out of business.

Now that seems fair to me.

Gerald A. Madrid is president of the Bail Bond Association of New Mexico.


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