PBUS President Beth Chapman Hails Passage of Landmark Crime Bill in the House Judiciary Committee

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President of the Professional Bail Agents of the U.S. Applauds Common Sense Bill for Pretrial Release Reporting

Taxpayers deserve to know if their hard-earned money is being spent wisely and if their communities are being protected.

“It’s About Time!” said Beth Chapman, President of the Professional Bail Agents of the U.S. “For far too long, our tax dollars have been used to turn repeat and violent offenders out onto the streets of this country without any accountability whatsoever. Thankfully, the House Judiciary Committee has seen fit to hold someone accountable for how our tax dollars are used.”

H.R. 2152, The Citizens Right to Know Act, as passed today out of the House Judiciary Committee, would require pretrial release programs that receive federal funds to report annually:

  • The amount of federal funds received each year by local pretrial release programs;
  • The identity, criminal history and previous failures to appear of individuals released through federally funded pretrial release programs; and
  • Appearance rates for arrestees and defendants released through pretrial release programs.

“These sensible reporting requirements for pretrial release programs are way overdue. They will bring much needed accountability to our criminal justice system. Chairman Bob Goodlatte has shown tremendous leadership in bringing this bill before the Committee.”

“Congress, and the public should know whether these pretrial release programs are effective, said Chapman. “It’s time to bring accountability to the system. Taxpayers deserve to know if their hard-earned money is being spent wisely and if their communities are being protected.”

H.R. 2152 will now move to the House floor for consideration before the full House of Representatives.

The Professional Bail Agents of the US (PBUS) is the nation’s largest organization representing bail agents.

Background on Pre-trial Release: There are approximately 300 state and local pretrial release programs within the United States that are supported by millions of federal taxpayer dollars. There is no measure of the quality or effectiveness of these programs.

Pretrial release programs arose in the 1960s to secure the release for nonviolent, indigent arrestees unable to afford commercial bail while awaiting trial. These programs release the arrestee on just a signature and a promise to appear in court, but often place conditions on them, including periodic check-ins and a promise to pay a monetary fine if the arrestee fails to appear for trial. Over time, pre-trial release programs have exceeded their original purpose. Over 300 such programs exist throughout the nation that routinely release
back into society arrestees who have prior arrests, prior failures to appear for trial, and have the means to secure commercial bail.

In theory, pretrial release programs operate similar to commercial bail in that arrestees must pay a monetary fine should they fail to show up at their trial. In practice, however, these “fines” for failure to appear are rarely collected. Meanwhile, fugitive rates –the arrestees who never appear for trial—are much higher for these pre-trial release programs than are fugitive rates for commercial bail programs.

“The big-money groups pushing for so-called ‘criminal justice reform’ fought this common-sense bill tooth and nail. They say that sunlight is the best disinfectant, so it really makes you wonder what they’re trying to hide with their pretrial services experiments. Thankfully, taxpayers are now on the first steps to finding out.”


Professional Bail Agents of the United States ™ (PBUS ™ ) is the professional association representing the 15,500 bail agents nationwide as the National Voice of the Bail Agent ™.

Since its founding in 1981, PBUS and its alliance with state associations have advanced the profession through legislative advocacy, professional networking, continuing education, support of bail agent certification, liability insurance and development of a code of ethics.

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Beth Chapman
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