For Poor Defendants, a Flawed Bail-Bond System

A fine piece of work by the NYT whose criminal justice coverage has improved significantly recently.

For Poor, Bail System Can Be an Obstacle to Freedom

Before George Zouvelos agrees to post someone’s bail, a customer must put up cash, sign a 20-page contract and initial 86 separate paragraphs. Those paragraphs are chock-full of fees: $250 if the defendant misses a weekly check-in; as much as $375 an hour for obscure tasks like bail consulting and research; and unspecified amounts if Mr. Zouvelos, a bail bondsman based in Manhattan, farms out tasks like obtaining court documents or delivering release papers to jail.

Then there are the thousands of dollars that Mr. Zouvelos can charge if he decides to revoke a bond and return a defendant to jail, as he did 89 times during a four-month period last year.

The common perception of how the bail-bond system operates is fairly straightforward: A bondsman bails a defendant out of jail. If that defendant misses a court appearance, the bondsman can “surrender” him — chase him down and haul him back to jail.

The reality is more troubling... Those who are supposed to give poor defendants a shot at freedom while their cases are pending are instead the ones locking them up and disenfranchising them further.


Palin Targeted Giffords

Check this out.
Yep--she was on a list of SarahPac's "targets" marked with a gunsight..


They Just Make S%$t up: Republicans Reject Cost Estimate of Health Law Repeal

I just love this:

The nonpartisan budget scorekeepers in Congress said on Thursday that the Republican plan to repeal President Obama’s health care law would add $230 billion to federal budget deficits over the next decade.

The new Speaker's response?:

“I do not believe that repealing the job-killing health care law will increase the deficit,” he said.

“C.B.O. is entitled to their opinion,” he said, but he said Democrats had manipulated the rules established for determining the cost of a program under the 1974 Budget Act.

Classic: Republican "belief" vs actual analysis.

“C.B.O. can only provide a score based on the assumptions that are given to them,” Mr. Boehner said. “And if you go back and look at the health care bill and the assumptions that were given to them, you see all of the double-counting that went on.”

But the analysis released by the budget office on Thursday was based on the health care repeal bill that House Republicans introduced on Wednesday. And it highlighted the difficult position that Republicans are in as they try to address what they insist are the top two priorities of voters who elected them in November: cutting the deficit and undoing the health care law.

According to the budget office, those goals are contradictory.


Oh and they forgot the slave bit of the constitution yesterday...


A friend of mine sent this to me...

I have to say I was stunned when a friend of mine sent this to me:

It's by some guy named Porter Stansburry, and it is the sort of tripe that circulates among republicans:

This is why there are no jobs in America

I'd like to make you a business offer. Seriously. This is a real offer. In fact, you really can't turn me down, as you'll come to understand in a moment...

Here's the deal. You're going to start a business or expand the one you've got now. It doesn't really matter what you do or what you're going to do. I'll partner with you no matter what business you're in – as long as it's legal. But I can't give you any capital – you have to come up with that on your own. I won't give you any labor – that's definitely up to you. What I will do, however, is demand you follow all sorts of rules about what products and services you can offer, how much (and how often) you pay your employees, and where and when you're allowed to operate your business. That's my role in the affair: to tell you what to do.

Now in return for my rules, I'm going to take roughly half of whatever you make in the business each year. Half seems fair, doesn't it? I think so. Of course, that's half of your profits. You're also going to have to pay me about 12 percent of whatever you decide to pay your employees because you've got to cover my expenses for promulgating all of the rules about who you can employ, when, where, and how. Come on, you're my partner. It's only "fair."

Now ... after you've put your hard-earned savings at risk to start this business, and after you've worked hard at it for a few decades (paying me my 50 percent or a bit more along the way each year), you might decide you'd like to cash out – to finally live the good life. I know, I know. You put up all the original capital. You took all the risks. You put in all of the labor. That's all true. But I've done my part, too. I've collected 50 percent of the profits each year. And I've always come up with more rules for you to follow each year. Therefore, I deserve another, final 20 percent slice of the business.

So here's my reply to my friend:

I've got a great business proposition for you:

You can start whatever business you like, and keep 100 percent of what you make. Only thing is, if someone screws you on a deal, you don't get to run to the courts, see, 'cause there aren't any. If you want to deliver something to market, you don't get to use my roads. Or my water. If your factory burns down, better call your own folks though where they'll get the water, I'm not sure, but hey--no worries. Also, might need some folks to dig a latrine. Shit begins to stink when it's not burried, and all that sewer stuff--that's for all my other partners. Oh yeah, and when the "Businessman" next door--you know "bubba the ballbreaker" comes and very sweetly asks for your're on your own pal. Hope you're good with that shotgun. Go forth prosper.