UBA Director responds to article about bail wasting taxpayer dollars

While I don’t think that when Emerson said, “Laugh often. Laugh a lot,” he was thinking about the guest column by Curtis Lee in the Florida Times-Union, that is what happened. Mr. Lee, a retired attorney, no doubt meant to enrage the citizens of Jacksonville that tax dollars were being wasted holding defendants in jail for committing a crime. The problem with the article was that it lacked any facts and did not explain the bond process, bond schedule or give any explanation of how release is determined by the court. It did not take into consideration the cost of FREE release to the citizens of repeat offenders both in monetary and social costs. The rebuttal, on the other hand, was filled with factual data that completely dispelled Mr. Lee’s deceitful rationale. Mr. Lee and his misinformed opinions represents a growing number of non-profit organizations seeking grants, local, state or federal funding and preying upon the taxpayer and legislatures to adopt non-verified pseudo-scientific experimental FREE jail releases. Duval County, for instance, has already established a pretrial release program for judges and indigent defendants that the judges feel pose no flight risk or danger to the community.

What is being lost in all of this is that breaking the law comes with a cost. That is a fact. Whether the cost is financial, social or moral the cost is real. This is an attempt to brain wash the taxpayer into believing that they will receive a monetary reward and is a slap in the face.

The facts of jail population in Duval County outlined by a colleague and the fact that Mr. Lee refers to a charge of petit larceny (shoplifting) shows detachment of reality. Shoplifting affects business owners, customers and society as a whole. The effects of this crime are estimated to cost the US business owner 16 billion dollars a year and is a significant reason why 1 out of every 3 new retail businesses fail. Every American pays these costs through increased prices for goods and services.

Jacksonville police spent 3,533 hours, the equivalent of 147 days and 5,298 police calls in 2015 to Walmart stores alone. The laughable non-monetary FREE to the offender scientific approach of release that Mr. Lee and others suggest will only increase crime rates and costs to the citizens and business owners of Jacksonville and reward those who violate the law. Judges are making responsible decisions based on experience for their communities which no scientific algorithm program can do better or predict future behavior.

Thank you, Ken for the following research data:

On October 4, 2017, I researched the Duval County jail roster for those admitted on September 26, 2017. Attached is the full data set of the Duval County jail roster for defendants admitted on September 26, 2017. I looked at the first 46 of 92 entries as it is time consuming to look through each one. The jail site is: http://inmatesearch.jaxsheriff.org/jsodocwebreports/(S(izm3omgctl3ex1ahdknzxnxv))/PublicInSheetReport2.aspx

I sampled the first 46 defendants on the list and will assume the second 46 will show similar results. Below is a summary:

As of October 4th, 65% of defendants researched on September 27 have been released. 58% were released within 2 days. 23% through ROR or pretrial services and 28% through surety bond. 5 of the 15 remaining in jail (12%) have “No Bond” due to a prior release violation or out of county warrant. Of the ten remaining bonds, 7 have very high bond amounts due to the heinous nature of the charge. 3 have bond amounts of $15,000 or less.

So, only 3 of 43 defendants (7%) admitted on September 26, 2017 are in jail more than 2 days on “minor” crimes. Thousands of defendants costing millions are not in jail as Mr. Lee would like you to believe.

Here is another fact that Mr. Lee would have known if he took the time to look at real data. Only 13 of the 43 had one or no prior arrests. 12 of the 13 were all released same day or next day. The other 30 defendants researched had a whopping 179 combined prior arrests in Duval County.


Don Mescia,
Executive Director, UBA

To see the original article written by the Florida Times Union please click the link below.

Jacksonville.com: Guest column: Bail bond policy wastes taxpayer dollars