Thursday, November 13, 2008

IMPORTANT: S.2495, Bail Bond Fairness Act

Stephen Kreimer, the Executive Director of the Professional Bail Agents of the United States, has sent out the following information regarding the Bail Bond Fairness Act that PBUS is currently trying to pass into law.

The elections are over and now the Members of the 110th Congress are making plans to return to Washington, DC one last time before they adjourn sine die; thereby ending this, the Second and final Session of the 110th Congress.

A significant number of bills have yet to be considered, including S.2495, the Bail Bond Fairness Act. This is it, we now have one more opportunity to get this bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and onto the floor for a vote and we need your help to move this bill.

The bail profession continues to enjoy universal support for this bill except from the Federal Judges and that appears, at this time, to be the one and only group that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is listening to. We need your help in elevating the noise from other Senators and constituents about the importance of this bill.

S.2495 says one thing and one thing only: Bail is about the appearance of the defendant! This bill tells federal judges (and state and local judges) that they may not forfeit a bail bond if a defendant violates a condition of the bond. We have repeatedly said: "If a defendant fails to appear, hold the bail agent responsible! If the defendant violates a condition of the bond (do not drink, drive out of state, use drugs) hold the defendant accountable for their own behavior! The judges say not being able to place conditions on a bond weakens their ability to set bonds. Nonsense is the universal reply. Place all the conditions on a bond that you want, only hold the defendant accountable for their own behaviors!

We need your help in two areas.

First is with the Senate Judiciary Committee. These are the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

Chairman Patrick Leahy (VT) 202-224-4242

Democrats (10):
Edward M. Kennedy (MA) 202-224-4543
Joseph Biden (DE) 202-224-5042
Herbert Kohl (WI) 202-224-5653
Diane Feinstein (CA) 202-224-3841
Russ Feingold (WI) 202-224-5323
Charles Schumer (NY) 202-224-6542
Richard Durbin (IL) 202-224-2152
Benjamin Cardin (MD) 202224-4654
Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) 202-224-2921

Republicans (9):
Arlen Specter (PA) 202-224-4254
Orrin G. Hatch (UT) 202-224-5251
Charles Grassley (IA) 202-224-3744
Jon Kyl (AZ) 202-224-4521
Jeff Sessions (AL) 202-224-4124
Lindsey Graham (SC) 202-224-5972
John Cornyn (TX) 202-224-2934
Sam Brownback (KS) 202-224-6521
Tom Coburn (OK) 202-224-5754

Second area where we need your help is with your two U.S. Senators.

Some Important Stuff!

1. This is a bi-partisan bill
. The primary sponsor is Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) who is also the VP-Elect. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) the ranking Minority Member on the Judiciary Committee is also a sponsor as are other Judiciary Committee members Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Other Senators sponsoring the Bill are Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL), Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID).

2. The only group, organization or persons against S.2495 are the federal judges. We have replied to their objections only they have had the ear of Sen. Leahy. We now need to make more noise so that our message is heard.

3. What are the Senate's plans for the rest of November and for December? Good question. I spent time recently on Capitol Hill seeking definitive answers. The expectation, according to Speaker of the House Pelosi that the House will reconvene to address additional Economic Stimulus packages. If this happens and a bill passes the House and goes to the Senate, then the Senate will return. Should there be no bill, then it is very doubtful that the Senate will return and all the bills in the Senate that have not been acted upon, including S.2495, will die.

4. Should the Senate return (and best estimates are that they will return) then we can look forward to the Sen. Leahy convening a Judiciary Committee meeting. At that time, we want him to place S.2495 on the agenda for consideration. Here is where we need your help. First, if either of your U.S. Senators is on the Judiciary Committee, please telephone them and ask that S.2495 be placed on the agenda of the next Judiciary Committee meeting. Second, we need everyone to call their two Senator's offices and ask them to have Sen. Leahy place S.2495 on the Judiciary Committee agenda. Again, this is especially true if one or both of your Senator's are on the Judiciary Committee. Everyone, every Senator is important if we want to make noise.

5. Option #2 - Sen. Leahy does not have to place the bill on the Agenda of the Judiciary Committee, he can agree to discharge it from his committee so that the full Senate may consider and vote on the legislation. Here is where noise pays off. If enough of us call and make this request of our Senators and they in-turn call Sen. Leahy's office, we will see the bill come out of the Judiciary Committee.

6. What if Sen. Leahy does not agree with either request? Then, as a last resource, we can ask one of our original sponsors to re-introduce the bill and ask for Same Day Consideration. This is the least desirable route, yet it is a route.

7. So, please, please call your U.S. Senator's office and ask them to have Sen. Patrick Leahy, Chair, Senate Judiciary Committee bring S.2495 up for consideration and a vote. Call your U.S. Senator's office and ask them to make noise and let's get this bill moving. Yes, call the Sponsor's office and the co-sponsor's offices if you are from their state. Please, let us call everyone.

8. Now when you call your Senator's office here in Washington, DC there is a better than 95% likelihood that the call will be answered by a Senatorial Intern. You do not need them to record your interest in S.2495, instead ask to speak with the Senator's staff member who is
responsible for Judiciary issues. Speak with them about S. 2495 or at least leave a voice message of support and your name and phone number so that they may call you back if needed or necessary.

9. What if you are uncertain as to the names and telephone numbers of your U.S. Senators? No problem for us. Please call the Home Office - 202-783-4120 - and we can supply names and telephone numbers. Honest, no problem.

10. What if I want to read more about S.2495, the Bail Bond Fairness Act? Again, no problem, we have lots of materials and information on the PBUS website at:

11. What if I did not support my Senator last time? Again, no problem. You are a constituent and this is a request you are making as a constituent.

12. What if I have questions about the bill or someone on a Senator's staff wants or needs more information. Again, no problem. Please call me in the PBUS Home Office - 202-783-4120 - and we can discuss the bill or work with me on a fast meeting with the particular Senate staffer. Remember, PBUS is located between the White House and Capitol Hill. I can reach the Hill in about under 9 minutes.

13. This has been a particularly long and arduous journey for you, the profession and PBUS and yet, we have never been as close to finishing the job as we are right now. The end is in-sight, awaiting that final push.

14. Call your U.S. Senator's offices, call PBUS and call me and let's see about getting this done.

I promise that I will continue to monitor daily what is occurring on Capitol Hill and let you know the moment the U.S. Senate creates their schedule for the remaining days of the 110th Congress. Together, we can make this happen.

Thank you.
Stephen Kreimer

Executive Director
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