Monday, February 15, 2016

Insurance Commish wants to get rid of some bad apples

This column was submitted by Mike Chaney.  Mr. Chaney is the Mississippi Commissioner of Insurance.  

Fortunately, most Mississippians go through life without ever having a need to be bailed out of jail.

Unfortunately, there are times when our citizens do have need of someone to post bail and I’m sure you have at least a small understanding of how that process works. Someone gets arrested and taken to jail. A bond is set in an amount of money suited to what he was arrested for. Now he has a choice. He can either remain in jail until he sees a judge and a final resolution of his case is worked out, or he can pay the cash bail and be released until his court date. Many times, however, he finds he cannot afford to pay the entire bail amount, so he goes to what we normally call a bail bondsman or bail agent. The incarcerated person pays the bail bondsman a percentage of their bail and the bondsman guarantees his appearance in court at the appropriate time and he is released “on bond.”

Let me be clear that I am not indicting the entire bail bond profession with what I say next. There are many, many bail bondsmen or agents that do their job honorably, fairly and with a sense of compassion.

However, there are bad apples in every profession and this is true of bail bondsmen as well. Lately here in Mississippi some of those bad apples have caused some major problems. In addition to outright fraud, we have had agents accused of forcing people into prostitution, human trafficking, sexual extortion, kidnapping and armed robbery.

In fact, the unscrupulous bondsmen are giving the industry a very bad reputation for corruption and our state has limited statutory authority to regulate them.

We also have a major problem with some of the bail bondsmen not paying the courts when they fail to produce their clients for court. Presently in Mississippi we have more than $1.8 million owed to our court system by bail bondsmen who simply won’t pay. I’ll touch more on this aspect later.  In the 2016 legislative session, I will be seeking legislation that will address several issues in the hopes of bringing increased regulatory authority over the bail bond industry.

First, the legislation will create an Electronic Bondsman Registry that will require all bondsmen to register with the department and allow the department to create an online registry that will allow the courts, sheriffs, municipal and state police to quickly and easily verify that a person actually holds a valid bail bondsman license in our state.

Currently a license can be checked online but the registry will bring more transparency by allowing an interested party to check not only the license, but the type of bail bonds an agent is licensed to issue.

The bill will establish a Bail Bond Database which will list every written bond issued in the state. Bondsmen will have to register every bond within a certain period of time and also will be required to provide information such as the amount of the bond, when it was satisfied, if it was financed and what type of security or collateral is required.

Now we get back to the money owed to the courts. Quite simply, in Mississippi, we have never required bail agents to carry enough collateral to cover the amount of bonds written. Currently, it is possible to write an unlimited amount of bail bonds with a security deposit of only $30,000. It is very easy for a bail bondsman to get over-extended with that small amount of security.

So in the legislation we attempt to rectify this by implementing a sliding scale for security required. Quite simply, bail bondsmen will be required to up the security and collateral based upon the amount of bonds they write, with certain modifications.

Understand that when I say the money is owed to the courts that means the courts in the counties where the failure on the defaulted bond took place. This money is owed to your county or city and it should be paid. Taxpayers should not be asked to take up the slack for someone who simply fails to pay what they legally owe.

I recognize this may not be a high priority item for many Mississippians. And quite honestly there are some people who should be in jail and not released on bond. My concern, however, is that where a court sets bail an individual should be able to engage an honest bail bondsman and not forced into prostitution, drug dealing or other crimes to pay for their bail.

While the steps I am seeking will not solve all of our problems in this area, it will be a good start. If I, as a regulator, ignore these major offenses, I am not fulfilling my duty to protect ALL the citizens of our state.

By seeking this legislation we are simply adding more accountability to the bail bond industry, something the industry should welcome under these circumstances. An honest industry does not fight accountability. They welcome it. Any attempt to clean up an industry and make sure everyone is operating legally is not government intrusion; it is government operating the way it is intended to.


I Like It... said...

Sounds reasonable to me. Can we limit the discussion here to the subject of Mr. Cheney's bill?

I would like to know, though, is there no recourse against a bondsman who fails, refuses or cannot pay his obligation to the courts? And if they don't pay something they owe to the court, can the courts not refuse to allow that bondsman further interaction with the system until, say, the passage of three months FOLLOWING his payment of the debt?

Anonymous said...

Does Cheney's agency currently have purview over the bail bond trade, or will this legislation ADD that jurisdiction to his plate? Honest question. Always a little leery of new legislation proposed by that agency whose budget will expand. Thanks

Anonymous said...

is there any way to hold the bail bondsman responsible if their customer commits a crime while out on bail? Or maybe a violent crime? Then they would think twice before putting these thugs on a payment plan so they get out immediately while grandma pays $100 a week for months or years and in the meantime these thugs keep terrorizing the city.

Anonymous said...

6:51, yes, it does.

Anonymous said...

when a defendant fails to appear, the Court calls the bond due and enters a default. the bondsman has some time to produce the body, failing which a Judgment Nisi is entered which means the bondsman has to pay the amount of the bond into the court. If they don't pay up, a Circuit Judge can suspend them from writing bonds until the Judgment Nisis are paid up. I think it varies from district to district how much this remedy is pursued.

most bondsmen are real pos. when I was a public defender years ago, we complained to the Court that these supposedly indigent defendants were managing to pay bondsmen but not criminal defense lawyers. The judges ignored us because the system ran smoother [for the judges] if the jail wasn't crowded and the defendants couldn't constantly change lawyers. Rotten system needs a big overhaul.

Anonymous said...

Three-fifty-seven and 6:51,the gentleman's name is CHANEY, not Cheney. Jesus.

Anonymous said...

6:54 no way. what a stupid thought. and I despise bailbondsmen.

Suscribe to latest on JJ.

Recent Comments

Search Jackson Jambalaya


Subscribe to JJ's Youtube channel

Who is the hottest reporter?


Who is the Hottest Reporter in Jackson?

Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS