I write today to ask for your support of crime victims by opposing the operation of private bail bond businesses in Wisconsin. There is widespread opposition to this proposal by many system professionals. Private bail bonding will directly harm crime victims in our state.
Currently, courts pay out restitution to victims from deposited bail. In the last decade, more than $7.2 million in restitution was paid to crime victims in Wisconsin from bail deposits. Victims are much more likely to receive restitution when it comes from bail deposits than if they collect it over a period of years while an offender is in prison or on probation. Cash bail deposits are also currently used to pay a defendant's other financial obligations after restitution is satisfied-obligations that include fees and court costs and crucial surcharge funds that support programs.
Local governments will be forced to absorb the cost. When local and state programs take these hits, taxpayers pay the price. The argument that criminal defendants will somehow have an easier time obtaining pretrial release while cases are pending is simply not supported by fact.
Judges know their communities and order bond amounts sufficient to address those concerns. A new system will simply add new fees to defendants, on top of already existing fees and restitution. Defendants will suffer from the proposed system as well, since currently bail deposits are returned to the defendant in the event the case is dismissed.
Creating a new statewide industry with no real benefit to anyone other than private bail bondsmen does a complete disservice to the citizens of Wisconsin. Please contact your legislators to remove the proposal for commercial bail bondsmen from the 2013-2015 budget. I hope you will join me in opposing commercial bail bonding in our state.
Victim Witness Coordinator