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U.S. Congress

Professional Bail Agents of the United States

"The National Voice of the Bail Agent"

Under Consideration in the 2nd Session, 111th US Congress

The U.S. Congress is nearing the end of their ‘State Work Period’; they are either at home, on vacation or on an investigative trip. The plan is that Congress will return to Washington, DC and reconvene on Monday, September 13, 2010. One bill under consideration, introduced by U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), is S. 714, the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2010.

The words bail, surety, bondsmen, bail agent or bounty hunter do not appear in S. 714 yet. However, this bill is still open to amendments, and we need to pay close attention to the part about the creation of this National Commission which will be designated to: review and (make) recommendations for changes in oversight, policies, practices, and laws designed to prevent, deter, and reduce crime and violence, improve cost-effectiveness, and ensure the interests of justice? PBUS maintains our national office in Washington, DC to insure immediate and direct access to Senators, Representatives and the Administration and this bill has kept me meeting with staff members in those various areas of our national government.

U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-Va). 

We know that almost every piece of legislation begins with good intentions. This is most certainly true with S.714. Introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) on March 26, 2009, this bill, (there is a companion version in the House of Representatives, H.R. 5143), has all of the hallmarks of a good bill. However, it is what happens to this legislation along the road to becoming law that concerns each of us.

And, it is not just this bill that has us ever vigilant. It is what might be added to or implied in any proposed piece of legislation that keeps us vigilant. There was the time a sentence was added by a staff member to the language of a bill introduced by Sen. Strom Thurmond, (R-SC). That bill had nothing to do with surety bail and Sen. Thurmond had no axe to grind with our profession, however, his staff member, hired from another Senator’s staff, who was anti-surety bail, saw that moment as an opportunity to get rid of us once and for all. The staff member inserted language in Sen. Thurmond’s bill that would have all but eliminated surety bail. PBUS members met with Senator Thurmond and had that sentence removed. Had that bill been signed into law, we all could be doing something else today.

This bill, S. 714, unless it is passed and signed into law by the president, will die, along with every other proposed piece of legislation once the 111th  Congress adjourns. The term is that Congress will adjourn Sine Die, otherwise, any Midterm Election Day recesses, means only a pause in the legislative arena. PBUS will track this bill and other bills throughout the remainder of the 2nd Session of the 111th Congress.

PBUS, ever vigilant, remains the national Voice of the Bail Agent. We shall continue to track this bill and keep you informed of any changes in the language that requires our support or language that needs to be amended or eliminated. 

S. 714

Establishes the National Criminal Justice Commission to undertake a comprehensive review of all areas of the criminal justice system, including federal, state, local, and tribal governments' criminal justice costs, practices, and policies.

Further, the bill directs the Commission to: (1) make findings regarding its review and recommendations for changes in oversight, policies, practices, and laws designed to prevent, deter, and reduce crime and violence, improve cost-effectiveness, and ensure the interests of justice; (2) conduct public hearings in various locations around the United States; (3) consult with federal, state, local, and tribal government and nongovernmental leaders and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system, including the U.S. Sentencing Commission; and (4) submit a final report, within 18 months after its formation, to Congress, the President, and state, local, and tribal governments, and make such report available to the public
(Click here for the Bill Text).

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