Solicitation of inmates is a crime. Believe it or not inmates in San Diego County Jails are being solicited for bail bonds by other inmates. History seems to repeat itself when it comes to solicitation for bail bonds in our jails. In 2001 the District Attorney in Riverside County filed a Criminal Complaint against Ray’s Bail Bonds with over 220 felony charges for solicitation of inmates.
Inmates were paid to solicit bail bonds. When inmates are being paid to solicit bail it creates an unsafe environment for the rest of the inmates in a jail. In many cases inmates were strong armed to use certain bail bond agencies. Many inmates stated they were in fear for their life if they didn’t used certain bail bond agencies.
Let’s fast forward to 2013. Defendants have reported that while they were in custody at San Diego County Jails other inmates prompted or “illegally solicited” them to call certain bail bond agencies or were given the phone after they dialed the phone number for certain bail bond agencies. Inmates have reported that the phone was passed to them from other inmates and they were told to tell the Bail Agent on the line their name and personal information for the purpose of posting their bail bond. In some cases inmates had no way of paying for these bonds and they were told they could make arrangements once they’re out of jail. In other words bonds are being posted without payment or a Bail Bond Indemnity Agreement signed. Free bail. The purpose of a bail bond is to make sure the defendant will return to court. Why should a defendant return to court when he or she got a free bail bond and never signed a contract to secure the bond? If the bail bond agency is willing to gamble being paid they do it at their own risk and peril. What happens if the defendant never reports to the bail bond agency or fails to pay the premium for the bond? In the past few years several stories of bail bond agencies going after their clients for failure to pay the premium have been in the news.
Criminal Complaint filed on September 14, 2011 against the employees of AJ’s Bail Bonds in Modesto, CA. On 2/23/06 Walter Scott Osborne was taken from his home to the office of AJ’s Bail Bonds. Osborne was handcuffed to a weight bench and told to raise money or he would be taken back to jail. Osborne was held at AJ’s Bail Bonds for 6 hours until he raised the money to be released. On 4/26/06 Benjamin Campbell appeared in court and after the appearance was taken to the office of AJ’s Bail Bonds. Campbell was handcuffed to a pole in the basement of AJ’s Bail Bond office and an agent for AJ’s Bail Bonds demanded money. Campbell was left in the dark basement for 4-6 hours. On 1/24/08 Alicia Guitierrez and Estevan Montanez were taken to AJ’s Bail Bonds office after Montanez appeared in court and they were told to come up with the money or Montanez would go back to jail. Both Guitierrez and Montanez were threatened with a Taser. Guitierrez was told she could not leave the office of AJ’s Bail Bonds even though she wasn’t out on a bail bond with AJ’s Bail Bonds. The Criminal Complaint alleges CONSPIRACY TO KIDNAP FOR THE PURPOSE OF EXTORTION, in violation of Section 182/209 of the California Penal Code.
Here’s another example “Rogue Bail Bondsman Arrested for Abducting Customer Until Debt was Paid”
In October, 2010, Damion Paul Perkins was charged with kidnapping for ransom, assault with a deadly weapon and using a firearm during a felony. A bond was posted for an inmate that failed to pay the “up-front” premium prior to the bond being posted. http://www.myvalleynews.com/story/51747/
Failure to pay the premium for a bail bond is a civil matter and not a criminal matter yet certain bail bond agencies in San Diego repeatedly surrender defendants without a Bench Warrant for Failure to Appear. In fact San Diego County Jails accept Bail Bond Surrenders without even asking why the defendant is being surrendered. With the help of the Sheriff, District Attorney and San Diego Superior Court Presiding Judge the return of defendants into custody for failure to pay the Premium on a bail bond must be stopped. Once the jails stop accepting these surrenders maybe the bail bond agencies willing to post a bond without the Premium or a signed Indemnity Agreement will think twice before posting free bail bonds.
Bail Bond Surrenders should be used for the intended purpose. Here are a few examples of when a defendant should be surrendered to the jail:
- Failure to Appear with an active Warrant for Arrest
- Violation of the Bail Bond Indemnity Agreement
- Co-Signer withdrawal
- Defendant in custody
There are a few bail bond agencies in San Diego County willing to break the law for money. Most bail bond agencies in San Diego County have been around for decades and we’re trying to run an honest and professional business and this is why we want to clean up our own industry. Many states no longer have surety bail bonds. We don’t want to lose our right to surety bail in California. Without bail bonds anyone arrested would have to come up with the full bail amount and pay the jail. No 10% of the bail. No payment plans.
If you’re reading this chapter and you know someone that’s been arrested please warn them not to accept the phone from another inmate if it’s passed to them. Like the snake in the Garden of Eden the apple is probably poison and can only lead to a very bad experience. If you’re ever arrested and find yourself inside a jail cell in San Diego County call a friend or loved one you know or select a bail bond agency off the jail card and dial the phone yourself. Remember, if someone offers to help you inside the jail by prompting you to call a certain bail bond agency over another it’s probably because its self-serving and will benefit them financially. There’s no such thing as “GET OUT OF JAIL FREE.”
What can you do to help us stop the illegal solicitation going on inside San Diego County Jails? Designing a phone cage isn’t practical or efficient with the number of inmates being processed on a daily basis at San Diego County Jails. The best thing you can do is once you’ve been released please report any incident of illegal solicitation where another inmate or employee of the jail prompted you to call any particular bail bond agency over another. Contact:
Bail Agents Association of San Diego County, Inc at: http://www.sdbailassn.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The laws prohibiting the Solicitation of Bail are very clear in the California Insurance Code of Regulations, Title 10:
“No bail licensee shall, directly or indirectly, transmit or cause to be transmitted to himself or to any other person a communication authorizing said licensee or any other person to solicit or negotiate bail which is a fictitious communication or which is from a person other than a person from whom he may lawfully solicit bail pursuant to Section 2079 or with whom he may lawfully negotiate bail pursuant to Section 2080. No such communication shall, at any time or in any manner, be used directly or indirectly as an aid in securing information concerning a person confined in a jail, prison or other place of detention or for the purpose of visiting an arrestee therein, or for any other purpose.”
“No bail licensee shall, for any purpose, directly or indirectly, enter into an arrangement of any kind or have any understanding with a law enforcement officer, newspaper employee, messenger service or any of its employees, a trusty in a jail, any other person incarcerated in a jail, or with any other persons, to inform or notify any licensee (except in direct answer to a question relating to the public records concerning a specific person named by the licensees in the request for information), directly or indirectly, of:
a. The existence of a criminal complaint:
b. The fact of an arrest: or
c. The fact that an arrest of any person is impending or contemplated.
d. Any information pertaining to the matters set forth in (a to c) hereof or the persons involved therein.”
“Except as provided in Sections 2074 and 2079.5, no bail licensee shall solicit any person for bail in any prison, jail, or other place of detention of persons, court or public institution connected with the administration of justice; or in the halls or corridors adjacent thereto; provided that a bail licensee may in such halls, corridors or in other rooms or ares where not prohibited by local rule or ordinance transact bail with persons specified in Section 2079 who have prior to transaction, requested his services.”