Potential Proposed Criminal Justice Budget Trailer Bill Amendment to Penal Code Section 1203.018-OPPOSE

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The California Legislature
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: Potential Proposed Criminal Justice Budget Trailer Bill
Amendment to Penal Code Section 1203.018-OPPOSE

Dear California State Legislator,

Golden State Bail Agents Association (GSBAA) is a trade association representing the California bail industry.  The purpose of the association is to promote the understanding of the bail industry’s important role in California’s criminal justice system and to protect the rights of its citizens.  The Association is headquartered in Sacramento, California, but has members throughout California.  The members of GSBAA include bail employees, bail agents and bail insurance companies.

I have heard rumors that you are considering eliminating the 30/60 day waiting period of Penal Code §1203.018 and I hereby request that you leave that waiting period in the statute. This waiting period is necessary to make sure that as many defendants as possible are released on bail rather than the less secure OR release with an electronic monitoring device.

Electronic monitoring can be a useful tool in the right circumstances, such as in the post-conviction context where bail is not available.  However, electronic monitoring is not a panacea.  Bail is a superior method of release in the pre-trial context because bail has lower rates of failures to appear and lower costs than electronic monitoring.

A 2011 study found that electronic monitoring had a 70% rate of false alerts causing significant increases in officer workloads, costs and dangers to public safety. (G.S. Armstrong, B.C. Freeman / Journal of Criminal Justice 39 (2011) 175–182)

The John Albert Gardner case is an example of how widespread use of electronic monitoring will undermine public safety.  Inspector General David Shaw found that State parole agents missed numerous chances to send Mr. Gardner back to prison before he raped and killed two San Diego-area teenagers.  Mr. Gardner wore a tracking device for a year before he finished parole in September 2008, but his parole agent did not review the data because he was considered a low-risk sex offender.

Right now in California, more than 7,000 paroled sex offenders are wearing GPS trackers to monitor their movements and in the last four months alone, 31 thousand alerts sent out by these devices were reportedly not properly followed up on.

Furthermore, unlike bail, this bill is tax payer funded.  The counties will have to hire personnel to run the OR program created by the bill, to monitor the electronic monitoring data of thousands of pre-trial defendants, and to arrest defendants that violate the terms of their release.

The bail industry is highly motivated to return bail fugitives to justice as shown in the enclosed chart from the January 28, 2008 New York Times.  As you can see, only 3% of defendants released on surety bond remained fugitives one year after they failed to appear while 8% of defendants released on their own recognizance remained at large after one year.   This means that defendants released on OR were 266% more likely to remain fugitives than those released on bail.

Furthermore, those who are asked to put up the money or cosign on the bail bond have an incentive to verify that the defendant does not represent an unacceptably high risk of flight prior to helping with his release; and they have an incentive to help him attend his court hearings.  The electronic monitoring program of Penal Code §1203.018 has no such incentives.

Lastly the bail industry generates a consistent stream of revenue for the state. Our industry as a whole pays approximately $9.4 million in surety taxes to the state per year.  Bail also contributes monies to the state by paying forfeitures and court costs. Surety bail employs a large number of tax paying citizens vital to our struggling state economy. All these revenue producing components are in jeopardy when surety bail is not allowed to function properly.

It is clear from the above that elimination of the 30/60 day waiting period will cost tax payer monies and undermine public safety by releasing large numbers of pre-trial defendants on electronic monitoring rather than bail.

Should you have any questions please contact our legislative advocate, Kathryn Lynch, at (916) 443-0202.


John Bench, President
Golden State Bail Agents Association

Senate Budget Committee
Senate Budget Subcommittee #5
Mr. Joe Stephenshaw, Consultant, Senate Budget Committee
Mr. Matt Osterli, Fiscal Consultant, Senate Republican Caucus
Assembly Budget Committee
Assembly Budget Subcommittee #5
Mr. Marvin Deon, Consultant, Assembly Budget Committee
Mr. Allan Cooper, Fiscal Consultant, Assembly Republican Caucus
Ms. June Clark, Deputy Legislative Secretary, Governor’s Office
Ms. Ana Matosantos, Director, Department of Finance
Mr. Brian Brown, Managing Principal Analysts, Legislative Analyst’s Office
Ms. Kathryn Lynch, Legislative Advocate
Golden State Bail Agents Association