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From: The ACLU Legislative Network
Subject: Legislative Alert SB-74B (Pretrial Release)

In the waning hours of the recent legislative session, a floor amendment was passed to Senate Bill 748 which appears to prohibit "publicly funded" pretrial release programs in Florida. The amendment was offered by Senator Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Miami) at the request of Ronald Book who represents the bail bond industry before the Florida Legislature.

This amendment directly impacts low-income individuals who have been accused of a crime but who are not a flight risk. Pretrial release on one's own recognizance represents lost income to the bail bond industry. From the industry's prospective this is simply about money. Nothing more, nothing less.

Ask the Governor to support a program that works rather than signing a bill crafted for monetary greed. Ask Governor Bush to VETO SB 748.

Write, call, fax or e-mail Governor Bush to ask him to VETO SB 748.
The Honorable Jeb Bush
Executive Office of the Governor
PL-01, The Capitol Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
850-488-4441 (phone)
850-487-0801 (fax)
fl_governor@eog.state.fl.us (e-mail)
bushj@eog.state.fl.us (e-mail)
http://www.state.fl.us/eog/govmailform.html (Governor's Correspondence Office)

Senate Bill 748 will result in the elimination of one of the model pretrial release programs in the country. It is designed to force low-income defendants to use the services of bail bondsmen. Additionally, it will result in the needless incarceration before trial of indigents who are not a flight risk, but who cannot pay even a nominal appearance bond premium.

The ACLU of Florida OPPOSES Senate Bill 748 for the following reasons

  • Pretrial release is a program which has the support of law enforcement, the state's attorneys, the criminal defense bar, the Florida Association of Counties, and the courts.
  • Pretrial release has only one opponent the bail bond industry.
  • Persons who are given pretrial release are individuals who have been investigated by the office of the local sheriff. Law enforcement investigators make extensive background checks to decide whether a defendant should be released on his or her own recognizance. It is a system that is fair, is a reasonable alternative to the construction of additional jail beds, and is working.
  • Pretrial release is also often the only option for the indigent defendant who is unable to make even a nominal bond.
  • The elimination of pretrial release is a potential, significant unfunded mandate for Florida counties which will be required to construct addition jail facilities to house indigent defendants who would have qualified for pretrial release, but who do not have sufficient funds to make an appearance bond.

Larry Helm Spalding
ACLU Legislative Counsel
Tallahassee, Florida

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