Bail bonds ensure criminal defendants appear for their...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 07, 2001

Bail bonds ensure criminal defendants appear for their trial

I was not surprised to see The Sun's latest attempt at dismantling the bail bond industry take a prominent spot in the Maryland section ("Bail laws fight looms," Oct. 30). But readers need to understand that proponents of so-called reforms either have agendas that benefit from the reforms or lack enough practical experience to know that their alternatives for pretrial release of defendants have been tried over the years with little success.

I have been involved in the criminal justice system daily for 17 years. And I have never seen the state attempt to collect on the forfeiture of the property of any defendant who missed a court date. The state simply has no mechanism to do this.

The commercial bail system extends credit to collect unpaid bail fees; commercial bails don't cost the taxpayer a dime and create no new government spending.

And to say the entire bail system needs overhaul because a few defendants can't afford the $100 bail fee given on credit by most bondsmen to cover a $1,000 bail is wrong. The person who can't find a bondsman to write a bond for his $1,000 bill could, under a bail reform act, be released into a bureaucracy and cost the government much more money to apprehend when he or she fails to appear for trial.

No matter what feel-good methods of pretrial release are available, trial judges know some defendants would take advantage of the opportunities offered by anything short of a third party with a financial interest in their appearance at trial.

Either the bondsman stays or The Sun ridicules the judge for releasing some defendant with no real mechanism for ensuring that he or she appears for trial.

T. Wray McCurdy

Baltimore

The writer is a lawyer who has practiced in Baltimore courts for 17 years.

Sympathy for criminals threatens public safety

The Sun's sympathies and politics are severely misplaced and dangerous for honest and law-abiding citizens ("Serving jail time for lack of money," editorial, Oct. 28).

Stop worrying about those who trample the rights of others and concentrate on making the world in which those who abide by the laws live a better place. The longer criminals and urban terrorists spend in jail, the greater the quality of life is for everyone else.

Americans will gladly pay taxes for a number of things, including public safety and jails to keep those who can't follow the simplest rules (don't steal, don't kill, don't rape) away from those who can.

Sympathy for the devil does not make heaven on earth possible.

David Weinstein

Columbia

Does region really have a shot at the Olympics?

After all that has happened in New York in the past weeks, does anyone really believe that the Chesapeake region, Houston or San Francisco has any chance at all of getting the 2012 Olympics ("Region makes Olympics cut," Oct. 27)?

C. D. Wilmer

Baltimore

We need federal workers to protect airline security

The Republicans in the House have voted against having federal employees in charge of aviation security, yet they have federal security to protect them ("Air safety bill gains House OK," Nov. 2).

This is another outrageous case of the fat cats looking out for their own interest and campaign contributions, this time from the large companies that provide miserable security at our airports.

Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich and the other Republican congressmen have not caught on that "business as usual" politics, in which they reward their campaign contributors, is not going to work anymore.

Airline security once focused on protecting the aircraft and passengers. Now we need to keep these potential guided missiles from smashing into a nuclear power plant or another target.

We don't have private contractors fighting in Afghanistan, and we need a highly skilled, professional, federal work force to protect us from hijacked jetliners.

Roger Fitzgerald

Hampstead

Federalizing security wouldn't make us safer

On the issue of whether airport security should be federalized or remain under private control, I ask: Who is more to blame for the tragedy of Sept. 11, the federal government or private contractors?

It seems to me that private airport security did pretty much what it was charged with doing, keeping guns and long-bladed knives off of airplanes.

On the other hand, how did the federal government perform? The federal Immigration and Naturalization Service lets in every Tom, Dick and Abdul and seemingly has no idea where they go or what they do from there. And federal intelligence apparently had no idea the airliner and anthrax plots would be hatched on our soil.

So what makes anyone think federalizing anything makes it better?

Dave Reich

Perry Hall

Constitution was penned during a period of peace

In her column "Anti-terrorism act imperils liberties" (Opinion

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