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Highlights from PBUS 2012

Bail agents from across the country came to the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for the Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS) conference. From exhibitors and new products to informative speakers and topics there was certainly a lot happening during the three day event. From the AboutBail booth in the exhibition hall we spoke with bail agents from various parts of the United States, exhibitors and speakers to find out the latest news in bail. For more on what's going on with legislation, pre-trial release and why joining associations is important, check out the following video for highlights from PBUS 2012. 

Highlights from PBUS 2012

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Hot topics at PBUS 2012

Pre-trial release:
Bail agents, speakers and vendors alike all agreed that pre-trial release presents a significant threat to the bail industry. Dennis Bartlett of the American Bail Coalition explained, "Today, the flavor of the month with pre-trial is called evidence based practices and risk assessment." Risk assessment involves using scientific data to estimate the probability of a loss and how likely it is to occur. Bartlett is quick to explain that the methodology he refers to is generally used for the military and describes it as "chancy at best" when applied to an industry like bail. "Bail agents do risk assessments," he says, "they're experts at it." 

Guest speaker Judge John McBain elaborates, saying that, "It's often looking at different formulas and risk factors that are based on imprecise information." As an experienced judge and former prosecutor, McBain explains that he has always supported private bail and that he believes judges can assess risk accurately without the use of assessment programs.  

Bondsmen across the board agree that individuals let out on private bail as opposed to pre-trial release are more likely to show up at court.

Post-Conviction bonds:
Bartlett also took the opportunity to explain a new industry product called a post-conviction bond, saying "It would be an extra layer of protection in terms of security when they [are let out] on parole or probation." 

Topo Padilla, a bondsman from California is confident that the industry can have a great impact on crime rates, saying that, "The bail industry can guarantee that crime will go down if more people are out on commercial bail." Padilla continues to say that a post-conviction bond gives the person an added incentive and can ensure their appearance in court and at required meetings. "Statistics have already shown it and will continue to show it," he says, "that if people on probation and parole are required to post a bond, they will adhere to the terms and conditions."

Legislation:
Agent from across the country are fighting against and pushing for a variety of legislation changes. Bondsman Bobby Brown explained that legislation was introduced threatening to shut down the entire bail industry in Colorado. State-wide bondsmen flocked to Denver to fight the legislation, and after some convincing the bill did not pass. Brown stressed that it's the domino effect and that if it happens in one state it will happen in others, With pre-trial relase taking America by storm he believes that, "bail agents either get their act together or there's not going to be bail. Period."

California bondsmen face the unique problem of bail being set at what Padilla describes as unreasonably high, and a recent bill converted county jails into prisons which involved sheriffs in pre-trial release. "Our sheriffs don't need to do anything other than protect our communities," Padilla said.

George Zouvelos, a bondsmen and association president from New York said that agents in his area face issues with regulators not understanding what the bondsmen go through and getting involved in areas they shouldn't be. Legislation involving pre-trial release has had a limited impact in the state and is mostly used in cases where bail is set at less than $300. Zouvelos explains that even so, the tax payer should take advantage of a fact that bail, a private tax-paying industry, is willing to take on the risk of bailing out those individuals at no added cost to citizens.

Negative industry image:
Many bail agents expressed a disdain for the negative industry image. California bail agent Topo Padilla encourages peers to beat their competitors by being a better bail agent, while Colorado bail bondsman Bobby Brown urges his peers to set aside their differences and join together to build the industry as a whole. Many bondsmen encourage their peers to reach out to industry channels and raise awareness about any charity work, donations and other community involvement. Promoting the great aspects of working as a bondsmen can help shed positive light on the industry and someday outshine the negativity. "One of the things we don't do well as an industry is talking about the things we do well, and talking about the things that we do great," Padilla explains.

Election Results

President:
Scott G. Hall
Executive Vice President: 
Jeff Kirkpatrick
Senior Vice President:
Beth Chapman
Vice President:
Dennis Sew
Secretary:
Maggie Kreins
Treasurer:
Pam Jackson
Immediate Past President:
Linda Braswell
Past President:
Dudley Goolsby
Directors At Large: 
Fred Anschultz 
Gene Newman
Marc Oudin
Armando Roche
Les Sebring
Glenn Strickland
Council of Presidents Chairman:
Ronnie Long 
Pacific Director:
Topo Padilla 
Greater Northwest Director:
Becky Magnuson
Old West Director:
Davie Westmoreland
South Central Director:
Guy Ruggiero
Midwest Director:
David Stuckman
Tropics Director:
Mark Heffernan
Deep South Director:
Ralph Williams
Old South Director:
Tony Milner
Mid-Americia Director: 
Frank Valli
Northeast Director: 
Scott Churchill
CEO/Executive Director:
Melanie Ledgerwood

 

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