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CA Policy: The corporate interest

Kathy Lynch is the legislative advocate for two California bail agent associations: the California Bail Agents Association (CBAA); and Golden State Bail Agents Association (GSBAA).  She founded Lynch & Associates in 1985.

These two groups explicitly lobby for increases in the fee detainees must pay for bail-posting services.  In California, the Department of Insurance regulates bail premiums (the amount of money paid to a bail bondsman for their services), which are set as a percentage of the court ordered bail.  In 2010, California set bail premiums at 10 percent.  The U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) noted:

Even though commercial bail-bonding agents are businesspeople who technically operate outside the criminal justice system, their practices and the regulations and policies that influence their decisions have a considerable effect on jail population sizes (p.70).

Bail agents greatly affect the size of the inmate population in California because they have the authority to decide for whom they are willing to write bonds, and if they reject a defendant that person must remain detained.  Coalitions of bail agents can put pressure on the courts by uniformly decreasing their bond writing leading to an immediate increase in the detention population (BJA, p. 71).

Lynch & Associates plays a role in increasing the prison population by providing advocacy services to CBAA and GSBAA in a range of ways including monitoring legislation, lobbying, coalition building, and consulting.

The bills and policies these bail agents associations oppose promote alternatives to incarceration and less costly approaches to bail.  Legislation they support advocates for tough-on-crime sentencing practices. For instance, Lynch & Associates aids CBAA to oppose what is referred to as "Credit Card Bail." They argue that credit card companies are operating as bail agents without a state license. They also oppose government funded pre-trial bail.  Additionally, in 2008, Lynch & Associates represented GSBAA, which contributed $40,000 to the "Yes on 6" Committee.  Proposition 6 proposed harsher sentencing laws for gang-related crimes and would have resulted in increased criminal justice costs of $365 million in 2009-10, and lowered the age at which juvenile offenders could be tried as adults.  The Proposition failed.

Most recently, CBAA and GSBAA have been opposing AB 109, Governor Brown's Realignment Bill, in an effort to "save our industry." AB 109 was developed in response to a U.S. Supreme Court order demanding the reduction of California's bulging state prison population that caused overcrowding to reach unconstitutional and inhumane levels.  The bill proposed to "close the revolving door of low-level inmates cycling in and out of state prisons" and was supported by law enforcement, corrections unions, and public safety advocates. It was implemented on October 1, 2011.

California's criminal justice policy should be rooted in the development of an efficient and humane system with an emphasis on public safety.  The policies Lynch & Associates promotes on behalf of bail agents associations drive incarceration rates in California and contribute to the current prison crisis.  By representing bail agents' special interests in the legislative process, Kathy Lynch & Associates sways the debate towards corporate rather than public interests. 

Keywords: bail industry, interest groups, pretrial, Selena Teji

Posted in Blog, Political Landscape

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