Letters - Part I

You need someone who knows food and who is inquisitive enough to find out what's truth and what's not, and to do some research. I do not claim to be a gourmet - somewhere between a gourmand and gourmet - but I do know your reviewer has no taste.

Wendy Gladstone
North Miami

I was very pleased with your article "Get Out of Jail Free" (July 10). You see, I am a bail bondswoman and have been for the last six years. Although my profession is looked down upon by the general public, I, as well as other bail bondsmen, do the general public a world of good, and they do not even realize it!

There are many differences between pretrial-release programs and bail bondsmen. The obvious one is that PTR releases defendants at no cost to them but at a very high price to every taxpayer. Bondsmen are paid ten percent by the defendant to get out of jail; no cost there to the taxpayer. PTR programs release defendants without their having to put up any guarantee that they will appear in court. Bondsmen take collateral in most cases to guarantee the defendant's appearance in court. If a defendant out on PTR fails to appear in court, it costs him nothing. Chances are he will be rearrested on new charges and released again by PTR. Again at no cost to him but a high cost to taxpayers, who pay for the backlog in our criminal system.

On the other hand, if a defendant out on bail with a bondsman fails to appear in court, the bondsman is obligated to find the defendant and bring him back to jail or the bondsman will have to pay the full amount of the bond. The bondsman pays, not the taxpayer!

The scariest and most dangerous difference between PTR and bondsmen is that PTR runs no background checks on the defendants before they are released. All they do is fill out a form. Give me a break. Most criminals out there will give up their mothers to get out of jail free. What makes anyone think they will not lie or give fake names? PTR could release Charles Manson for all they know. On the other hand, when a bondsman posts bail, the defendant must have valid ID or have to wait four hours for a fingerprint run. Defendants lie; fingerprints do not.

Taxpayers must do something about this, and soon. Let's not let them get away with that pitiful and poor excuse: "We have to release criminals back onto the streets because our jails are too full." I say, let's take the millions of dollars it costs to run these "get out of jail free" programs and build bigger jails. Pretty simple logic, isn't it?

Jackie Indacochea

Upon reading "Get Out of Jail Free" I didn't know whether to write and thank you for enlightening this stupid taxpayer or write to every country in the world to tell them not to let their citizens visit the U.S. I couldn't believe it was possible that our tax dollars could go to something that makes our lives unsafe.

It seems that civil-rights groups have gotten their way. They got better food for prisoners, private and semiprivate quarters, TVs, judges to get mad at overcrowded conditions, and now quick release - free and even quicker than the computers can search up a criminal's record (as if it would do any good). It makes one glad to be a taxpayer.

Al Shapp
North Miami Beach

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