Bondsmen Speak Out Against Proposed Legislation

WICHITA FALLS - If someone is arrested and charged with a crime in the state of Texas, in order to get out of jail they have to pay a cash bond.

Two bills introduced this Legislative Session in Austin aim to change what determines when and how a person is released from jail. Meanwhile, new language has been added to Senate Bill 4 or the sanctuary city bill, that would hold bail bondsmen responsible for crimes committed by illegal immigrants they post bond for.

Now the Professional Bondsman of Texas are lobbying against the bills, Senate Bill 1338 and House Bill 3011.

Bo Jones, the Vice President of the PBT, said the two bills filed this month will be detrimental to the future of the bail bondsman industry.

The bills would require courts to perform pretrial risk assessments to determine if someone is a flight risk, is likely to show up for court or if they pose a threat to the public's safety. If the bills become law, people who are not considered a risk, would be released on their own recognizance in lieu of a cash bond.

"Misdemeanors are a lot of our income," said Jones.

But Jones said that's not his main concern.

"It's not so much the bondsman, what's going to cost me as a taxpayer," Jones said. "They're going to have to have a tremendous amount of people to do this pre trial releases and the assessments, magistrates. It's going to be devastating what it's going to cost the taxpayer."

Jones said they have established relationships with their clients.

"We try and help them. These aren't criminals to us these are our clients. A lot of them are just nice people, who've made stupid mistakes."

Another bondsman said some of those people are illegal immigrants and if Senate Bill 4, which would ban Sanctuary Cities becomes law, bondsman would be held liable for crimes committed by illegal immigrants they helped bond out of jail.

"We don't even know they are illegal sometimes," said Chase Burgher, manager of Central Bail Bond. "And we don't really post bonds on illegals if we did, because at that point if they're in custody they have ICE detainer against them we wouldn't post it because they would get deported."

Burgher said they hope the bills do not become law, because if they do he says they may have to close their doors forever.

Texas Republicans have tried unsuccessfully since 2011 to pass a sanctuary cities ban, we'll keep you posted on the bills progress. Yesterday alone, over five hundred people signed up to speak in front of the committee now debating the bill in Austin.

Governor Greg Abbott said he hopes to sign both bills before lawmakers gavel out in late May.

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