UPDATE! Indianapolis Bail Bonds, Is Cash Bonds Unconstitutional? A Letter To The Mayor

A Letter to the Mayor

Indianapolis Bail Reform

From: Bail Agent Brent Smith

Smith American Bail Bonds

Dear Mayor Hogsett,

I’m Brent Smith a licensed Bail Bondsman and the owner of Smith American Bail Bonds operating out of Indianapolis, IN. Though we’ve had verbal communication in the past through various colleagues, I am writing this letter to inform you of potential hazards in the cash bond system.

I believe that the cash bond system has a link to the high crime rate in Indianapolis. From personal research I presume cash bonds (also known as 10% cash bonds), have caused overcrowding in jails due to families not being able to afford cash bonds.

Listed below are reasons myself and fellow bail bondsman’s see as the cause of these high crime rates in our area:

Cash Bonds (Not Recommended)

Defendant may or may not be a repeat offender

Family or friend has to go to the clerk to pay bond

Must have valid ID

If defendant is found innocent they may be refunded

Concerns: When a defendant is let out on a cash bond there is no one left to oversee this individual. Who will ensure this individual will show up for court? Also, the constitution states that when an individual has been arrested and given his/her Miranda rights, they have the right to consult with an attorney and/or have that attorney present during questioning and if they are indigent, an attorney will be appointed to them at no cost. My question is if people cannot afford an attorney, why is the cash bond money being applied to attorney fees or court cost?

(Surety Bonds (Highly Recommended)

Defendant may or may not be a repeat offender

Must Be 18yrs or older to post bond

Must have valid ID

Must be employed

There is a contractual agreement between the defendant and indemnitor. The bondsman ensuring that the defendant will appear in court. There are terms laid out between the bondsman and the defendant of what he or she must do while his or her case is pending (such as they must call once or twice a week if needed). If the defendant violates their term which is a contractual agreement, then I, the bondsman, may go to the judge to request the bond be revoked.

Bondsman may give recommendation for lack of life skills or education (encouraging him or her to attend GED, seek job placement, counseling etc.).

They may post Bond at 8% or 10%. The 8% was put in place so that families can be at ease to financial afford the funds for bail.

Mayor Hogsett, as I’ve explained, I am assured that the Surety Bond is a better fit for the Indianapolis criminal justice system. Surety Bonds allow the bondsman to have direct contact with the defendant, which allows us to hold them accountable and have assurance that they will appear in court. On the other hand cash bonds have cause a lot of FTA in Marion County. Wayne County in Ohio dealt with the same issue that caused a lawsuit to be filed with the United States Supreme Court. The court ruled in the bondsmen favor by a 5-2 vote. The Ohio Bondsmen Association filed their suit with the Supreme Court recently because they felt it was unconstitutional that the courts order defendants to pay 10 percent cash bonds, and that the courts accept full surety bonds.

Chardon Municipal Court Judge Terry Stupica stated that her court already was not requiring 10 percent cash bonds even before the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of the Bondsmen.

She explained “It almost appeared as if it was double dipping.” She added by saying, “usually this situation described in the ruling comes into play on higher bond amounts. Most of the lower bonds people pay before they leave the court that day.” When considering what to set for bond, judges do follow certain guidelines but ultimately decide what to set the bond amount at. Stupica finished by saying she often considers whether the offense is drug related. Mayor Hogsett I believe if this situation doesn’t get any better the state of Indiana will have no other choice, but to follow suit. Bondsmen around the country have some of the same concerns as those in Indianapolis, and are fighting for change.

We as bondsman’s can also lay out guidelines and instruction for them to report to us. This gives them direct accountability. In generally my concern has more to do with accountability when it comes to bails in Indianapolis, and myself and other would agree that Surety bonds have proven to provide that.

I’ve fully have committed myself to this career because I truly believe a good bail bondsman can act as a mentor by encouraging and committing offenders to take forms of rehabilitation that will direct offenders in the right direction. Giving them accountability and placing them in programs such as GED classes, job placement, and or vocational training, will allow them to see a different path to life. As an Atterbury Job Corps alumni, I visit and mentor troubled youth. I understand what these young adults are going through and I believe I have solid solutions to lower our growing crime rate.


Bail Agent Brent Smith

Smith American Bail Bonds

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