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A summary of 76 investigations about bail forfeiture and related bail bond problems

By Wendy Sawyer
October 2022
Main report

State County City Year(s) of data or publication Description of source Problems described Amount of uncollected forfeited bonds, if applicable Source links
Alabama Dallas County 2017 News story The prosecutor doubts whether the normal premium was collected by the bail bond company on a $1 million bond, states there are “lax laws” about bonds in the state, and says that judges are not enforcing bond forfeitures. https://www.selmatimesjournal.com/2017/03/18/stallworth-makes-1-million-bond-for-october-shooting-charges/
Alabama Statewide 2022 Report on the Professional Bail Bonding Board by the Dept. of Examiners of Public Accounts The Examiner’s office surveyed 100 licensed bond companies, agents, and/or recovery agents, asking “What do you think is the most significant issue(s) currently facing your profession in Alabama?” Respondent 14 stated in part: “unethical way many companies run. They do not abide by the codes of Alabama. … And the counties need to be schooled also in proper procedure for how bonds are to be written. There are two [sic] many companies writing bonds are not being held responsible by counties for their forfeitures. There needs to be a stop to companies giving false addresses to avoid being served forfeitures. … And legal repercussions should take place when someone does not abide by the codes set down by the state.” In addition, this Board is an example of the industry “regulating itself:” It was established in 2019 to “license and regulate professional bail and surety companies, bail bondsmen, surety bondsmen, and recovery agents.” Its nine members include seven professional bond agents and a court clerk and judge, both nominated by the Alabama Bail Bond Association (a trade organization). https://examiners.alabama.gov/PDFLink.aspx?IDReport=6645
Arizona Statewide 2016 News story This is an explanation of how bail bonds work in the state, written in the context of some bail reform proposals. An Arizona bond agent is quoted as saying that when bail is forfeited, the bond company doesn’t take the loss, but rather “Mom and Dad,” who put up their home or vehicle as collateral to guarantee the bond. He also explains that “usually, police will find the defendant who failed to appear” (as opposed to the bond agent). https://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/0/FairJustice/090716dminer.pdf
Arkansas Crittenden County 1995 Policy paper, citing a news story Uncollected bond forfeitures in the Crittenden County Quorum Court from January 1995 (as of news story publication in June 1996). $2,142,400 https://info.nicic.gov/nicrp/system/files/013555.pdf
California Los Angeles County 2016-2017 Government report by the Pretrial Detention Reform Workgroup with Recommendations to the Chief Justice Unpaid bail forfeitures. The unpaid amount was not broken down by type of bond (i.e., surety vs. paid by defendants), but over 99% of bonds are surety bonds in the county. $1.1 million in one year https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/PDRReport-20171023.pdf
California Los Angeles County and statewide 2001-2004 Investigative report Uncollected bail forfeitures for a variety of reasons including fraud. Records showed “the county had been unable to collect at least $9.1 million in bail forfeitures during the two years ending in August 2003.” The District Attorney estimated that uncollected forfeitures cost the county $30 million over the past three years. Statewide, a bail expert and attorney estimated about $100 million to $150 million in unpaid forfeitures over the same time. About $30 million in Los Angeles County, and about $100 million to $150 million statewide over three years https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2004-jul-25-me-bail25-story.html
California San Francisco County 2015-2016 Government report by the Pretrial Detention Reform Workgroup with Recommendations to the Chief Justice Unpaid bail forfeitures. In 2015 and 2016, a total of over $317 million in bail bonds was posted, over 99% of which were posted by commercial bond agents. Over the same time, only $128,727 was collected from bail bond agencies for forfeited bonds (0.04% of the total bonds written). The report also states that bail companies challenge about five bond forfeitures each month, and three-quarters of these are “granted without contest.” The city estimates that bond agents are “released from responsibility” for millions in bail owed to the court each year. Estimated “millions” each year https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/PDRReport-20171023.pdf
California San Mateo County 2001-2007 Grand Jury investigation on the issue of “Can procedures for processing bail bond forfeitures be improved?” Failures of communication undermine forfeiture collection; the records kept made it impossible to even determine how much money had gone uncollected over the study period. http://www.sanmateocourt.org/documents/grand_jury/2007/bail_bond.pdf
California Santa Clara County 2017 Government report by the Pretrial Detention Reform Workgroup with Recommendations to the Chief Justice Bail bond companies benefit from “doubling up” or “piggybacking” off of the county’s pretrial services supervision system, which does most of the supervision of defendants who are ordered to both money bail and pretrial supervision. https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/PDRReport-20171023.pdf
California Stanislaus County 2006-2010 California Dept. of Insurance press release Unpaid bail forfeitures due to fraud. The Dept. of Insurance found that staff of a bail bond company “conspired to defraud the County of Stanislaus out of bail forfeiture money... by falsely representing that a bail fugitive had been apprehended, or that the court had failed to notify the business….” More than $400,000 http://www.insurance.ca.gov/0400-news/0100-press-releases/archives/release068-14.cfm
California Statewide 2017 Policy paper, citing emails with the California Dept. of Insurance Various violations reported by the California Dept. of Insurance, including lying to the court to extend or vacate a forfeiture and obtaining or creating false death certificates to discharge a forfeiture, among others. https://static.prisonpolicy.org/scans/UCLA_Devil%20_in_the_Details.pdf
California Statewide 2016 Blog post published as part of a Santa Clara Law course that makes some back-of-the-envelope estimates of annual bail forfeitures in California, citing other estimates. Bail companies are not paying as much in forfeitures as they should, given average bail amounts, long-term fugitive status rates, and a conservative estimate of how many people released on financial conditions use surety bonds. The author estimates that bail companies should forfeit about $172,278,810 per year to California counties, but even using the most generous assumptions, they should be paying “tens of millions of dollars per year in forfeited bail.” Estimated “tens of millions per year” https://crimlawandpolicy.wordpress.com/author/spreichhold/
California Statewide 2012-2013 Government report by the Pretrial Detention Reform Workgroup with Recommendations to the Chief Justice, citing an investigation by the California Department of Insurance in 2014. Uncollected bail forfeitures. From 2012 to 2013, “one surety had approximately 1,500 forfeitures each of the two years, but forfeitures were actually collected by the court in only 32 cases.” Another was similar, with over 1,000 forfeitures each year, but only 19 were successfully collected. Amounts owed were not specified. https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/PDRReport-20171023.pdf
Colorado Jefferson County 2009 Government report by the Jefferson County Criminal Justice Planning Unit Commercial bail bond agents rarely locate or apprehend defendants who fail to appear in court. Almost all defendants with warrants for failure to appear are located and brought into custody by law enforcement, not bond agents. http://www.clebp.org/images/2009-02-19_Jeffco_Bail_Proposal.pdf
Colorado Jefferson County 2010 Press release Unpaid bail forfeiture. In an example of the industry’s efforts to “regulate itself,” the insurance company only agreed to finally pay the forfeiture “upon receipt of another court order” after investigation and intervention by the Americans for the Preservation of Bail’s Forfeiture Review Committee, which is composed of bail industry professionals. $500,000 https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-forfeiture-review-committee-chair-investigates-the-case-of-state-of-colorado-versus-hidai-friedman-and-the-unpaid-bail-bond-forfeiture-in-that-case-108733759.html
Colorado Statewide ongoing Government “On the Board Report,” a statewide listing of sureties and insurance companies that have outstanding bond forfeiture judgments Unpaid bail forfeitures. When sureties or insurance companies are “on the board” for unpaid forfeitures, they can no longer post bonds in the state. https://www.courts.state.co.us/Administration/Program.cfm?Program=13
Colorado Statewide 2016 Government “Sunset Review” report by the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies Failure to pay bail forfeitures was noted among the types of complaints received. https://drive.google.com/file/d/15IWhu_xNMVkEKHd55nMG62AA_4Y0heVL/view
Connecticut Statewide 2004-2010 Policy paper Bail bond companies benefit from “doubling up” or “piggybacking” off of the state’s pretrial services supervision system. In 2010, over half of those released with pretrial supervision were also released with money bonds. https://justicepolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/_for_better_or_for_profit_.pdf
Connecticut Statewide 2003 Government report Lack of enforcement of bond forfeitures by regulatory authorities. The Insurance Department has refused to suspend licenses of bond agents and insurers with outstanding bond forfeitures, and had not (as of this report) conducted any audits of surety records. https://www.cga.ct.gov/2003/pridata/Studies/Bail_Final_Report.htm
Florida Hernando, Leon, Nassau, Santa Rosa, and Volusia Counties 2009-2012 Audit Uncollected bail forfeitures. Across all five counties, 8% of bonds were forfeited in the study period. Of those, 3.8% were reduced to judgment. Once a bond forfeiture has been reduced to judgment, the agent can no longer apply for remission. However, 23 of 25 forfeitures that met the criteria for judgment (i.e., weren’t paid within the allotted time) were granted remission, despite the law. Improper remissions resulted in over $41,000 in lost revenue to the state. https://web.archive.org/web/20220125165551/https://www.myfloridacfo.com/division/aa/AuditsReviews/BondForfeitureAuditReport.pdf
Florida Pinellas County 1990-2000 Audit Lack of enforcement for nonpayment of bail forfeitures. Three insurance companies were allowed to write over $24 million in bonds that should not have written any because of unpaid judgments. In addition, $151,715 in forfeited bail money went to the state, not the county, where it should have gone. Record keeping errors were also noted. https://web.archive.org/web/20170810232916/https:/www.mypinellasclerk.org/aspinclude2/pdf/inspector_general/rpt2001-08.pdf
Florida Palm Beach 2011-2012 Various problems in the court’s processing of forfeitures, including clerk’s errors, failure to issue judgments, and failure to report when judgments are unpaid for 35 days. https://web.archive.org/web/20170920021633/https://www.mypalmbeachclerk.com/uploadedFiles/Public_Funds/Division_of_Inspector_General/2013/criminal_court_bonds_%20final_report_6-6-13.pdf
Georgia Douglas 2016 Audit Reduced bond forfeiture payments. While most counties order the entire bond amount forfeited, this county’s practice is to require the bail company to forfeit only 5% of the total bond. In addition, no report exists to show how many judgments were ordered for the full amount of the bond. https://www.celebratedouglascounty.com/DocumentCenter/View/1194/Transitional-Audit-PDF
Georgia Dalton 2010 News story Unpaid bond forfeitures. Over $100,000 in bail forfeitures was owed by bail companies and individuals, plus $50,000 in judgment interest on that money. Several judges from surrounding counties were also interviewed, who commented “bonding companies are not being pursued on their bonds;” “to be truthful with you, I’m not sure who is responsible for collecting the bonds when they’re forfeited;” and “My God, it’s an act of Congress just to get a bond forfeiture.” https://www.dailycitizen.news/news/local_news/are-courts-bogging-down-county-s-finances/article_e76b433b-90bb-5961-80b9-9fbbd151d006.html
Hawaii Statewide 2016 News story Unpaid bail forfeitures. Hawaii Attorney General claimed Da Kine Bail Bonds (whose President is Duane Chapman, aka ”Dog the bounty hunter”) owed the state $35,500 from 21 separate criminal cases. This was part of a joint effort by the state judiciary and the Dept. of the Attorney General to sue bail bond companies for nonpayment of forfeited bonds. Seven other companies paid the judiciary about $700,000 when they received notice. Over $700,000 https://www.khon2.com/news/local-news/attorney-general-sues-duane-dog-chapmans-da-kine-bail-bonds/1025971991
Hawaii Statewide 2014 News story Unpaid bail forfeitures. One bond agent owed over $367,000 in six unpaid judgments. $367,000 https://www.staradvertiser.com/2014/05/12/breaking-news/bail-bond-agent-loses-license-for-not-paying-judgements/
Hawaii Statewide 2016 News story citing data from the Hawaii State Judiciary Unpaid bail forfeitures. This story (behind a paywall) is likely related to the other 2016 story cited above. At the time of this reporting, bail bond companies owed the state over $2.4 million. Over $2.4 million https://www.staradvertiser.com/2016/10/02/hawaii-news/several-bail-bond-companies-including-one-owned-by-dog-chapman-owe-the-state-more-than-2-4m/
Indiana Porter 2013 News story Commercial bail bond agents rarely locate or apprehend defendants who fail to appear in court. A judge reported that he had “rarely seen a bail agent return a defendant to custody as is promoted as the benefit of a surety bond.” In his words, “It is all receipt of bail money without any promise of action… Again, it’s a ruse obtained by bail agents through a strong and influential lobby who cozy up to legislators.” https://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/duneland/plan-brings-forfeited-bail-bond-money-back-home/article_882f574c-e7fd-5ea2-95bd-fa195bef3c28.html
Indiana Statewide 2013 News story Unpaid bail forfeitures, as reported to former State Sen. Earline Rogers. “Bail bond agents in Rogers’ district had approached her, asserting the courts were not forfeiting bonds and that money was going uncollected.” https://www.theindianalawyer.com/articles/32025-dispute-over-bail-bonds-likely-to-produce-a-legislative-solution
Louisiana East Baton Rouge Parish 2014 Investigative report Unpaid bail forfeitures. Officials told the reporter they were owed about $1 million in unpaid forfeitures. $1 million https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/bail-bond-prison-industry/
Louisiana Orleans Parish 2001-2009 News story Unpaid bail forfeitures. A single insurance company had failed to pay 109 forfeitures on time. $1 million https://web.archive.org/web/20151023084131/https://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2011/12/orleans_district_attorney_sues.html
Maryland statewide 2010 Government report on the bail bonds system by the Dept. of Legislative Services, citing data from the District Court’s List of Absolute Bond Forfeitures in Default for 2010 Unpaid bail forfeitures. Out of over $36 million in total bond forfeitures in 2010, over $34 million was “satisfied” in some way (including exoneration, payment, or having the forfeiture “stricken”), and $1.7 million was not paid on time but was eventually collected. About $300,000 remained unpaid. $297,784 http://dls.maryland.gov/pubs/prod/CourtCrimCivil/Bail-Bonds-System.pdf
Minnesota Anoka County 2011 Court document Unpaid bail forfeiture. Despite attempts to collect, the agent refused to pay the forfeited bond amount. It was included as a loss claimed in the process of liquidating the insurance company on the bond. $2,000 https://mn.gov/commerce-stat/pdfs/liquidation-mstc-rpt-claims-approval-2014.pdf
Minnesota Statewide 2015 Court document (Consent order) While forfeitures are not specifically discussed as a problem, the Commissioner of Commerce required all 21 insurance companies that provided surety bonds to the 41 bail bond agencies in the state to enter into consent orders. This was in response to “numerous complaints” about bond producers failing to follow laws related to solicitation, negotiation, sales, and posting of bonds. Among other things, the orders require the companies to conduct routine audits, including proof of bond exoneration and payment of judgments on forfeitures. https://www.cards.commerce.state.mn.us/CARDS/security/search.do?documentId=%7B97F458BE-D25D-4362-9405-730CC89E946D%7D
Mississippi Rankin County and statewide 2016 News story Unpaid bail forfeitures due to companies not having enough assets to cover the bonds they write. An attorney with the Insurance Commissioner’s office stated that bail companies owed $1.8 million statewide, but “half the counties don’t even report them.” $1.8 million statewide, $372,000 in Rankin County alone https://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2016/02/14/ongoing-bail-agent-probe-into-human-trafficking-counterfeiting-drugs/80301654/
Mississippi Statewide ongoing Government website The Insurance Dept. maintains a listing and archive of enforcement actions issued by the Department, including those related to bail bonds. https://www.mid.ms.gov/legal/enforcement-actions.aspx
Missouri St. Louis County Wellston 2016 Audit Inadequate oversight and “largely inaccurate” records of bail bonds, resulting in financial irregularities. “Court records showed the bond bank account was short by $280,000,” but “city and court officials made no attempts to identify possible reasons for the shortage… [or] to resolve discrepancies in court documents.” 90% of court cases reviewed showed differences between electronic and paper records. https://www.auditor.mo.gov/content/auditor-galloway-finds-widespread-mismanagement-court-records-and-finances-wellston
Missouri Statewide 2010 Government report of the Missouri Bail Bond Study Committee, by the Dept. of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration Unclear processes for bail forfeitures, which allows bail companies to circumvent regulations. "The comments included on the survey responses as well as public hearing testimony indicate that the existing statutes in Missouri for forfeiting a bond have been a source of confusion, not only for the bail agent, but for the courts as well. … Most courts do not record a civil judgment against the general bail bond agent in a bond forfeiture, thereby allowing the general to show the asset as unencumbered and use the asset to establish a new general bonding company. https://insurance.mo.gov/Contribute%20Documents/BailBondStudy.pdf
Nevada Statewide 2017 Exhibit Document for the Legislature citing information from the Division of Insurance Does not discuss forfeiture, but summarizes various abuses of commercial bail bond clients reported to the Division of Insurance, including multiple examples of seizure of collateral even after bonds were exonerated. This document also includes extensive examples of bail industry “comments” on proposed legislation, many of which were implemented. https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/79th2017/ExhibitDocument/OpenExhibitDocument?exhibitId=33668&fileDownloadName=0516SB18_emma_bailstories.pdf
New Hampshire Statewide 2017 Court case This is an illuminating court case (State of New Hampshire v. James Castine) about a $10,000 forfeiture that the bail agent fought because it was ordered for pretrial misconduct other than failure to appear. The judge wrote, “The surety seems to have been content to post the bonds and then forget the whole thing. It was only when called upon to make good the bonds that they awakened to what had occurred. … It is difficult to understand what the surety did to earn its fee… [The surety] has not even made a pretext of supervising the defendant….” A similar case was reported in 2012, related to an $11,000 forfeiture for a defendant who had left the state. (https://www.reformer.com/local-news/n-h-court-bail-bond-co-has-to-forfeit-11-000/article_01debdc2-259d-5d5b-9731-44291e392615.html) https://www.courts.nh.gov/sites/g/files/ehbemt471/files/inline-documents/sonh/20170557_2ndchancebailbondbrief.pdf
New Jersey Statewide 2006-2010 News story Unpaid bail forfeitures, in an estimated amount of $250,000 over four years. $250,000 https://www.npr.org/2010/01/21/122725771/Bail-Burden-Keeps-U-S-Jails-Stuffed-With-Inmates
New Jersey Statewide 2013 Government report by the Commission of Investigation on questionable and abusive practices in the bail bond industry Poor oversight that enables “unscrupulous and improper practices” including unpaid bail forfeitures. This review of all 21 counties found that “the amount of bail imposed by the court is rarely, if ever, collected.” In 2013, 1,836 forfeitures were resolved through negotiated settlements averaging just 12.5% of the original bond amount. Out of $51.7 million in outstanding judgments, only $6.5 million was collected. In 2012, the average statewide collection rate was less than 9%. The report details that the state knew about collection problems following 2004 and 2007 audits, but the problem only worsened. https://www.nj.gov/sci/pdf/BailReportSmall.pdf
New Jersey Statewide 2004 Advocacy Brief by the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies citing a 2004 news story Unpaid bail forfeitures. Over $100 million was owed by one company alone. Over $100 million https://biblioteca.cejamericas.org/bitstream/handle/2015/1107/NAPSA_Facts_and_Positions_2009.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
New Mexico Albuquerque 2011-2015 Investigative report Failure of judges to enforce bail forfeitures. An investigative report found Albuquerque District Court judges forfeited only nine bonds over four years. The amount reported as uncollected here reflects just eight examples highlighted in the story. $107,500 https://youtu.be/z3p7—hKbXg
New York New York City 2017 Policy paper by a community bail fund Not related to forfeitures, but lack of industry oversight. Nine bail bond companies were found to be unlicensed, six used fake names that were unlicensed, six were conducting business at unregistered locations, and many examples of “consumer obfuscation” were identified. https://envisionfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/BCBFLicenseRegistrationPlease_2017.pdf
New York New York City 2011 News story citing data from the district attorneys’ offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx Unpaid bail forfeitures. One agent owed more than $500,000 in 18 bond forfeitures under four companies. In all, over $2 million was owed for 150 cases where judges ordered money forfeited, with some dating back a decade. Over $2 million https://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/nyregion/10bailside.html
North Carolina Davidson County 2006 News story about a court clerk’s investigation A bail bond agent wrote bonds exceeding what he could cover. A court clerk noticed that the agent had almost $210,000 in bonds “headed toward forfeiture” across several counties. The clerk suspected the agent was “operating unrestrained by the Department of Insurance.” https://www.the-dispatch.com/story/news/2005/11/02/shipwash-discovers-problem-with-bondsman/30106155007/
North Carolina Wake County 2008-2013 News story about a criminal investigation Unpaid bail forfeitures due to fraud. County court clerks had been bribed by bail bond agents to alter records in over 300 cases, leading to $1.2 million in uncollected forfeitures. $1.2 million https://news.yahoo.com/news/wake-schools-court-recover-1-110000099.html
North Carolina Greensboro based company 2017 News story about a financial audit A bail bond company wrote bonds far exceeding what it could cover with its assets. At a time when it had over $79 million in bond liabilities, it could not pay $10,000 or $50,000 in forfeitures without an installment plan. http://www.wbtv.com/story/36795977/insurance-commissioner-bail-bond-company-operated-in-cash-failed-audit
North Carolina Guilford County 2014 Press release from U.S. Attorney’s Office Unpaid forfeitures due to fraud. A bail bond agent provided a false death certificate for the defendant to get the remaining bond forfeiture payments ($170,000) waived. $170,000 https://www.jdefustice.gov/usao-mdnc/pr/bail-bondsman-pleads-guilty-mail-fraud
Oklahoma Oklahoma County 2002-2004 Investigative report series Corruption including unpaid or improperly forgiven forfeitures. The Oklahoman reported over $1 million in improperly forgiven bond forfeitures overall. More than $800,000 was improperly forgiven by one judge, who was accused of taking a bribe, but was later cleared. Eventually Ranger, the largest bail bond issuer in state at the time, pulled out of the state when issued a consent order “to resolve more than $1.5 million in unpaid bond forfeitures in the state.” When asked why Ranger paid so little in forfeitures, its managing general agent for Oklahoma said “We’re more aggressive with our attorneys.” $1.5 million https://oklahoman.com/article/2857783/judges-orders-forgive-800000 & https://oklahoman.com/article/1904534/fbi-studying-county-bail-bond-practice & https://oklahoman.com/article/2861208/bail-bond-company-quits-state
Oklahoma Oklahoma County 2002-2004 Audit Unpaid bail forfeitures due to failures in the clerk’s office. “A possible $425,000” was not collected from 45 out of 211 audited forfeitures (only 4% of all bond forfeitures in the study period were audited). In addition, more than 84,000 court docket entries had been deleted or edited with no explanation. $425,000 https://www.sai.ok.gov/Search%20Reports/database/OK%20County%20Clerk%2002-04.pdf
Pennsylvania Berks County 2004 News story citing several others Unpaid bail forfeitures. This story mentions $2 million owed to Berks County in unpaid forfeitures by one insurance company. $2 million https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2007/dec/15/bail-bond-businesses-getting-black-eye-in-texas-california/
Pennsylvania Erie County 2009 Advocacy Brief by the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies citing a 2009 news story Uncollected bail forfeitures due to officials who “gave up” in 2006, citing difficulties and expenses related to collection from bail companies. Before 2006, the county averaged over $34,000 per year in forfeitures, but in 2008, only $250 was ordered forfeit. https://biblioteca.cejamericas.org/bitstream/handle/2015/1107/NAPSA_Facts_and_Positions_2009.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Pennsylvania Lehigh County 2005-2008 Controller’s memo Unpaid and reduced bail forfeitures. 86% of cases reviewed had bail amounts negotiated down by the Dept. of Law, reducing county collection by almost $350,000. Two bond agents had outstanding forfeitures of over $100,000, $350,000 https://www.lehighcounty.org/portals/0/PDF/controller/General_Reports/2009/09-65.pdf
Pennsylvania Luzerne County 2008-2014 Audit Flaws in record keeping (such as hand written records that were not entered in the computerized system), which the Controller believed could facilitate fraud. In addition, the lack of forfeiture hearings being held by the court meant that there were no consequences for failure to appear in court, and the County was losing revenues due to them. https://www.luzernecounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/1465/Bail-Forfeiture-Audit-as-related-to-Clerk-of-Courts-and-Wilkes-Barre-Law-Library-2008-2014-PDF
Pennsylvania Montgomery County 2012 News story Unpaid bail forfeitures. “In an effort to procure large sums of uncollected bail lost in the criminal justice system,” county commissioners hired an outside firm to try to collect that money. The County Solicitor stated, “It could be, potentially, millions.” https://www.timesherald.com/2012/07/24/montco-steps-up-efforts-to-collect-forfeited-bail/
Pennsylvania Northampton County 2005-2011 Audit Unpaid bail forfeitures. Over half of forfeiture cases were vacated by judges. $1.5 million https://www.northamptoncounty.org/CONTRLR/AuditReports/Bail%20Forfeitures.pdf
Pennsylvania Philadelphia 2009 Investigative report series, followed by a 2011 state Supreme Court progress report on efforts to collect Unpaid bail forfeitures. However, unlike other counties in the state, Philadelphia did not use commercial bail bonds. Rather, 210,000 defendants owed an estimated $1 billion in forfeited bail in 2009. The now defunct clerk’s office failed to collect 90 percent of bail judges ordered forfeited (the other 10% was the cash deposit.) $1 billion (not commercial bail bonds) https://www.inquirer.com/philly/news/homepage/20090208_Fugitives_owe_the_city__1_billion.html & http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/get_out_of_jailbut_not_free_courts_scramble_to_fill_their_coffers_by_billin
Rhode Island Statewide 2014 News story about a specific case Unpaid and reduced bail forfeitures. One bond agent owed $318,000 for seven forfeited bonds. He ended up paying $137,500 in “a mediated settlement.” This story was reported in the context of a proposed reform to cap the amount bond agents would have to pay in forfeitures at 10% of the bond; the Attorney General stated this would “[set] up a system of inequities” in which people paying without a commercial bond agent would be liable for more of the bond than a commercial bond agent would be. $318,000 https://www.wpri.com/news/local-news/blackstone-valley/kilmartin-craven-clash-over-proposed-law-ag-calls-a-bailout-for-bail-bondsmen/
South Carolina Lexington County 2000 Court case Bail bond companies overextended, writing bonds they could not pay. Just one agency was overextended by more than $700,000. The bail company in the case “fudged” documents and wrote bonds they didn’t have enough funds deposited for. An audit is mentioned but could not be located. https://web.archive.org/web/20190705110358/https://scalc.net/decisions.aspx?q=4&id=2741
South Carolina Spartanburg County 2001 News story Unenforced bail forfeitures. Solicitor for the Seventh Circuit (and later Congressman) Trey Gowdy started pursuing forfeitures (called estreatments in this state), saying that bond agents had been on a “gravy train,” not having been ordered to pay under the previous solicitor. He explained, “It’s all reward and no risk for them if prosecutors do not move to estreat bonds.” The article also describes the pushback and complaints he received from bail bond agents in response. https://www.goupstate.com/news/20010722/gowdy-making-bondsmen-pay-enforcing-policy-39gravy-train39-ends-when-suspects-skip-court-bondsmen-demand-more-time-to-find-defendants
South Dakota Minnehaha County 2014 Court document Unpaid bail forfeiture. The bail agent failed to pay forfeited bond, and because the insurance company was ordered into liquidation before the settlement was paid, it was included as a loss claimed in the liquidation process. $6,000 https://mn.gov/commerce-stat/pdfs/liquidation-mstc-rpt-claims-approval-2014.pdf
South Dakota Pennington County 2016-2018 Investigative report Unenforced bail forfeitures. KOTA TV reviewed KOTA TV reviewed 104 Pennington County cases in which bond was revoked because the defendant failed to appear. Bonds ranged from $300-$5,000. “In none of the cases did the court initiate forfeiture proceedings.” In addition, “No one in the sheriff’s office or the court system could locate any record of a bond forfeiture or recall one for more than 30 years.” https://www.kotatv.com/content/news/Pennington-County-bail-bond-system-unorthodox-486889401.html
South Dakota Statewide 2015 News story Unpaid bail forfeitures. Statewide, $248,075 in bail bonds was forfeited in 2015, but the state court system collected only $71,650 - 29% of the total. $248,000 https://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/jail-plan-could-eliminate-or-reduce-bail-and-bail-bonds/article_7e50c907-b65a-5364-bb26-c834e29704cd.html
Texas Cameron County 2012-2013 News story and related newsletter from a bail insurance company Uncollected bail forfeitures. This news story and the related bail company newsletter discuss the efforts of the district attorney to collect more forfeitures. In 2012, there were no regulations and the county reviewed forfeitures on a case-by-case basis, resulting in possible “favoritism.” By 2013, the D.A. had collected about $145,000 in outstanding forfeitures. Two out of 35 companies had already closed in 2013 because of collection efforts. Over $145,000 https://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/local/article_1789b200-f7f8-11e2-8b23-0019bb30f31a.html & http://www.rochesurety.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/The-Roche-Times-Summer-2013.pdf
Texas Dallas County 2011 Investigative report Unpaid bail forfeitures amounting to $35 million, dating back decades, due to poor oversight and lack of coordination between departments. In FY 2008, there was over $317,000 in unpaid forfeitures. In addition, the county board that regulates the industry “has rarely taken disciplinary action in recent years.” $35 million https://www.dallasnews.com/news/investigations/2011/07/02/bail-bondsmen-owe-dallas-county-35-million-in-uncollected-default-judgments
Texas Dallas County 2007-2011 News story related to an audit Unpaid forfeitures due to judges “setting aside” forfeitures and lack of oversight. An audit of 192 forfeiture cases from 2007 to 2011 completed by the county district clerk’s office (likely in response to the investigative report) found that “nearly 60 percent of the cases were dismissed [or “set aside”] early in the process by judges.” The clerk instructed judges to document valid reasons that forfeitures are set aside. The audit also found that in six cases, no action was taken to collect after bond agents unsuccessfully appealed judgments. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/news/2011/12/30/reforms-follow-investigation-into-dallas-county-bail-bondsmen-more-on-the-way
Texas Dallas County 2012 Government report of the Dallas County Bail Bond Task Force on progress and recommendations Unpaid forfeitures, many of which were determined to be no longer collectible. This follow-up report to the investigative report found that “only a relatively small portion of the initial $35.8 million [in unresolved forfeitures] is actually due.” About $7 million was found to be from pretrial release and personal bonds, “which have not historically been pursued for forfeiture.” It should be noted that this task force had bail industry input. https://www.dallascounty.org/Assets/uploads/docs/cjab/meetings/2012/BailBondTaskForceReport-Packet.pdf
Texas Harris County 1994-2004 Policy paper Bail bond companies benefit from “doubling up” or “piggybacking” off of the county’s pretrial services supervision system. The percentage of defendants on pretrial release (and received pretrial services) who also had to pay money bail increased from less than 3% in 1994 to over 60% in 2004. https://justicepolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/_for_better_or_for_profit_.pdf
Texas Harris County 2010 Investigative report Unpaid bail forfeitures and inadequate oversight. A review by the Houston Chronicle found 500 bail companies owed the county over $26 million in forfeited bonds (some dating back decades). In addition, the Harris County Bond Board, which regulates the industry, had not suspended or revoked any bond agent’s license in the past seven years. $26 million https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Bail-bonds-are-big-business-but-not-all-pay-up-1707202.php
Texas Tarrant County 2009-2012 Investigative report Unpaid bail forfeitures. Less than 20% of forfeited bonds were paid. None of the 21 bond agents referred to had paid in full. Eleven had paid 10% or less, seven had paid less than 5%. In all, less than $1 million of over $5 million owed had been paid. $4 million https://web.archive.org/web/20191105165028/http://www.star-telegram.com/news/special-reports/article3830904.html
Utah Statewide 2015 Audit and related news story Unenforced bail forfeitures. The audit included district court data from all eight districts. Only 1.7% of “failures to appear” resulted in bond forfeiture. Cash bail (paid by defendants) was found to have better court appearance rates than commercial bail bonds. In addition, law enforcement (as opposed to bond agents) was found to have returned 87% of bonded defendants who absconded in Salt Lake County. https://le.utah.gov/audit/17_01rpt.pdf & http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=4868440&itype=CMSID
Utah Statewide 2015 Government report to the Utah Judicial Council on Pretrial Release and Supervision Practices, citing data from district courts and the Insurance Dept. Unenforced bail forfeitures, blaming courts and prosecutors. For the 3,989 defendants who failed to appear in court, the court sent forfeiture notices in only 990 cases (i.e., 25% of the time). In the 990 cases where the forfeiture process was initiated, motions to forfeit were filed in only 32 cases, or 3% of the time. “The low numbers of motions filed suggests that prosecutors are not filing motions to forfeit when they should be filed.” Together, less than 1% of all those who failed to appear made it to the point of facing a motion to forfeit bail. https://www.utcourts.gov/resources/reports/docs/Pretrial%20Release%20and%20Supervision%20Practices%20Final%20Report.pdf
West Virginia Harrison County 2017 News story Inadequate monitoring of defendants by bail bond companies, according to a county judge who observed an unusually high number of bonded defendants missing court appearances. The article describes the judge as “serving bail bonding companies notice to better monitor clients.” He emphasized that “it’s important for bonding company officials, defense attorneys and prosecuting attorneys to fully understand the forfeiture process and follow it to the letter.” https://www.wvnews.com/news/wvnews/high-number-of-people-jumping-bail-makes-forfeiture-hearings-order-of-day-in-harrison/article_5799727c-6d2d-516c-af66-ad39df27aa4d.html
West Virginia Statewide 2012 Government report by the Performance Evaluation and Research Division of the Legislature on the state of regulation in the bail bond industry Lack of regulation at the local level. A survey of twelve county courts was conducted to assess the level of regulation at the local level. While little evidence was found of serious problems, this could be explained by the little regulation in place. Appendix B shows that across the twelve courts surveyed, five did not require bail bond companies to demonstrate financial ability, and seven did not require any updates from bond companies about outstanding bonds. https://www.wvlegislature.gov/Joint/PERD/perdrep/BailBond_9_2012.pdf

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