A bill in the Oklahoma Senate that sounds good on the surface runs the risk of flooding the streets with recidivist criminals, Muskogee bail bondsman Jan Jordan said today.
“The ‘catch and release’ bill would allow criminal defendants to be released with only a promise to return to court,” Jordan said. “It would subject victims of crimes to further danger as accused offenders are continuously released without being held accountable.”
Jordan is Oklahoma’s longest-serving bondsman, writing bail bonds for 55 years.
“Failure-to-appear rates will skyrocket as those accused of crimes will not return to court,” he said. “In Oklahoma County in February of this year, 57 percent of defendants released without posting bonds failed to appear for their court dates. Counties in Oklahoma do not have the funding or resources to track down and arrest those who fail to appear. By comparison, those released on surety bonds cost the county and taxpayers nothing, and ensure the defendants return to court.”
The proposed bill, set for vote on Monday, also removes judges’ ability to consider defendants’ full criminal history when making decisions, including if they are potential threats to people or if they have already violated court or government orders. Violent criminals would be released to society without any incentive to return to court.
“Many studies have been done throughout the years that indicate ‘catch and release’ isn’t effective,” Jordan said. “This will create a haven in Oklahoma for criminals.”