Posted: Jun 11, 2012 5:44 PM by Hope Hanselman, KSBY News
Updated: Jun 13, 2012 12:41 AM
Local bail bondsmen say they're being put out of work by the state's prison realignment law.
The state is sending more offenders to county jails instead of prison under AB 109. Now, those serving jail-time are charged with more serious offenses. The San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Department says felony arrests are on the rise.
Local bail bondsmen say they're writing less misdemeanor bails, because the county jail doesn't have room for those cases.
Greg Sullivan, owner of ABC Bonding in San Luis Obispo, has been in the industry 28 years. He says he's never seen business so slow.
"We had paperwork, we had motions to file, there was just a rhythm, it was a well-oiled machine," Greg said.
His office used to be fully-staffed, before prison realignment crowded county jails.
Now, there's less room to hold misdemeanor offenders on bail, and that has Greg working alone.
"We wrote more bonds back in 1993 than we write now," he said.
ABC Bonding now writes half the bonds they did five years ago.
The Sheriff's Department says no policy is trying to move more misdemeanor offenders out of the jail. But, Greg says it's taking longer for his clients to be held on bail.
"So you can basically fail to appear four times on a single warrant, be picked up by law enforcement four times before you actually are held to bail," Greg said.
So, his biggest client base no longer needs a bondsman.
"All we get now are felons and felony warrants. And those bails, generally, especially due to the economy are also very high."
The sheriff's department says the bail schedule for felony arrests was set higher this year.
Bondsmen say people hit by the economy can't pay those prices.
Greg has already laid off his office manager. He keeps the rest of his agents on call.
"My six agents who used to use the bail bond business as their sole income can no longer use it as their sole income."
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