Topo Padilla Speaks Frankly About Proposed CA Bail Reform
Topo, What’s going on with the current movement for bail reform and the notion that bail bonds are unconstitutional?
Well there’s some movement started about five years ago that really and truly are aimed at making our criminal justice system have less teeth, not punishing as hard and stuff like that. And so now as we fast forward to 2015 2016 there’s groups running around the country really and truly acting as though people that are arrested are victims. And while they may or may not be, that’s none of my business and as a bail bonds and I don’t get involved in that. What I do want to get involved in is the defense of the bail industry. And that comes to the extent is this… number one how could something be unconstitutional that is in the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution? It is also contained in the California Constitution that bail bonds are a constitutional right. And the reason our forefathers gave people that right is so that they didn’t have to sit in jail while being and going to trial for their cases. It gave them the ability to pay for a way to be released from jail and not be under government monitoring.
So the current movement that is going on… there are lawsuits being filed throughout the country and a group… this Equal Justice Under the Law is going throughout this country… there are Harvard grads saying that bails is unconstitutional. And what they’ve done is they’ve gone in filed lawsuits and these relatively small counties and have scared these counties into settling, saying “OK bail is unconstitutional we won’t make people bail out of jail anymore.”.
They’re finally coming West they’ve got some lawsuits filed in San Francisco and one here in Sacramento and what they’re finding out is what people like mirror thing is this: so they want to have everybody released on a government-funded “own recognizance release” (OR) meaning the person would sign there there that promise to appear in court. Or even worse that they would sign a release giving probation or law enforcement agencies the responsibility of making sure that these people go to court. And one of the big problems with that is that people have to sign away their Fourth Amendment right to reasonable search and seizure if you’re released on one of these government bonds. And then you and everybody in your household is subject to search and seizure by law enforcement. And you know that’s just not what we want… that’s not what our forefathers had in mind when they guaranteed the right to reasonable bail.
So these lawsuits and all this movement that is going on throughout this country… while these people might have the right intentions when it comes to bail not being reasonable… which when the bail industry don’t disagree. We think bail schedules for instance in California are extremely high compared to places like Idaho, Nevada, and Florida, where they are almost too low and people really don’t have the financial chip in the game to come back to court, there’s got to be a balance. Getting rid of the bail industry is a tragedy and not because it’s my living. I mean believe I can go do something else that’s not the case. The case is do we want people to go to court? Do we want them to resolve their cases. If that is the case then the answer is yes then the best way to release somebody from jail is with the bail bond because we are going to make sure that they go to court take care of them their matter at no cost to the taxpayers.
You see, all these programs that this ej ul and all these other entities that are seeking bail reform want… all of them cost money and they’re going to cost you, the taxpayer, money. Thousands and millions and hundreds of millions of dollars throughout this country. The folks in New Jersey learned that real quick when they try to get rid of the bail industry and they saw how much was going to cost.
So the fact of the matter is these groups can shout for bail reform but really and truly who they are hurting… they say they’re defending the minorities that are are sitting and and languishing in jail, when in fact what they’re gonna do, is they’re going to put these people under more government monitoring. GPS monitors, where the government’s going to track you 24 hours a day… and you haven’t even gone to your first court date. You certainly haven’t been convicted… and you’re going to be under government monitoring. So that’s why when the bail industry you know sure we’re trying to save our industry because we believe in our industry. We believe in what we do. We believe in giving people the right to be released on bail bond while they’re going to court and while they’re waiting judgment of their case.
And so this is current notion of bail reform is it’s mixed in with a bunch of other people that really and truly have a misguided message that our criminal justice system is unfair to to certain people. I mean to think the notion that police are just out there arbitrarily arresting minorities to arrest minorities is is just it’s not true. It’s not… it’s not the message, it’s not what’s going on and they’ve hijacked certain things and they’re throwing bail into it now.
So we’re going to stand up for ourselves we believe in what we do. I know that our customers believe in what we do I mean, you know certainly again as I said in the beginning bail schedules are high. Do we need to fix them? Absolutely. We in the bail industry want to see them in a more palatable amount but we’ve tried we tried in our industry and to get to get the judges and the people the legislature to buy in what we’re saying… they’re kind of looking at it like it’s a self-serving thing.
NO. Bail schedules do need to come down and that’s where we could start