By Beth Chapman
As the senior vice president of the Professional Bail Agents of the U.S., our industry could be supportive of New Jersey bill, SCR128, which was passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Christie, and allows judges to deny bail to some offenders. Offenders who have committed a heinous crime should indeed be held without bail to protect the public and to fully ascertain the risk associated with the release of such offenders.
A second bill that was passed however, S946, sets up a non-monetary system to release defendants at the taxpayer’s expense. Despite the rhetoric from legislators and the public that this would prevent defendants from languishing in jail and save taxpayers millions of dollars, the truth is that such a system only sets up another government bureaucracy.
In a state that has current fiscal issues in the forefront, such a taxpayer-funded system will only add to the fiscal dilemma in terms of requiring a new staffing model to manage the program, health care benefits, pension benefits and other associated costs to fund a public welfare system. In numerous criminal justice studies, it has also been shown that defendants released on unsecured means have higher failure to appear and recidivism rates, thus increasing the overall burden to the taxpayer.
The bail industry does not believe such a system is cost-effective to the citizens of New Jersey nor protects public safety for victims of crime.
This bill package marries protection of the community with a criminal welfare system. We have all heard the goal of the bill and the amendment is to detain the dangerous and free the poor. However, this bill abandons the concept of bail for criminal welfare.
Perhaps Chris Christie and his supporters should watch a few hundred episodes of ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter.’
In the absence of any quality information on the cost of the pretrial service program, it is likely that the alternatives to bail will cost taxpayers between $55 million and $250 million per year. This cost will be paid by taxpayers to free all criminal defendants with no accountability or security that the defendant will return to court. Thus causing our police departments more time and money to re arrest those who do not return at all
It is curious why a Republican presidential hopeful would get in bed with a Democratic candidate for congress in a Hail Mary last minute effort to pass this package. If it was so beneficial, why couldn’t it pass with plenty of time to spare? It’s political adultery at best, betraying their own values to position themselves in a new office. All the while, deceiving taxpayers and shutting small business owners out.
What’s worse than political adultery is political adultery absent all stakeholder input. Despite the headlines crying out that all views were considered, what was ignored was the whimper of a few, yet important voices. The bail agents, police chiefs, defense attorneys, victims’ advocacy and others were ignored so a headline could bolster politics.
No one understands this more than I do. As the wife of Duane “Dog” Chapman, one of the world’s greatest bounty hunters, we have made our life’s career out of helping folks get their footing. My husband and I are on the front lines every day of the year apprehending criminal defendants. Perhaps Chris Christie and his supporters should watch a few hundred episodes of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” or he can come on a ride-along with us on CMT’s “Dog and Beth: On The Hunt” to realistically understand how counter-intuitive S946 really is.
From Hawaii to New Jersey and Alaska to Florida, Dog and I are crisscrossing the United States capturing criminals regardless of economic standing or offense (at no cost to the taxpayers I might add) who are evading authorities and putting our communities at risk.