Bail reform hurting bail bonds industry

New York News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Jay Bernardo is one of the owners of Bernardo, Goldstein and Quinn Agency, Inc. Bail is what they do and has been for 60 years. But since January 1, Bernardo tells NEWS10 ABC they’ve seen a lull in business.

“Anyone that gets bail is usually calling us to see what it requires to get out. So our industry took a major hit,” said Bernardo.

Bernardo said he’s already lost about four or five employees within the last few months, who left voluntarily, because they saw the writing on the wall. He’s also the president of the New York State Bail Bonds Association and said he’s learning of many employees being laid off.

“A lot of them who probably got pink slips at Christmas time,” he said.

Bernardo said it won’t be long before taxpayers feel the effects, too.

“It should bring more deficit to the state in my opinion,” he said. “People don’t look at the expenses. They go, ‘Oh, you have less people in jail. You’re going to save all kinds of money.'”

However, Bernardo said there are major costs associated with the new laws for both the district attorney’s offices and probation departments.

“They don’t have the budget for more staff. The counties are trying to figure that out. Certainly, the cry from those departments is for more help,” he said.

Bernardo said that as more defendants are instead being released with an ankle bracelet, the state will find that the offices who monitor those devices will have a hard time keeping up.

“This can’t happen. They don’t have the staff people to monitor through the night. There are costs associated with the equipment.”

Bernardo reiterated that a bail bond helps to ensure a defendant will show up for court.

“It’s terrific motivation to get them back, and it’s worked for many, many times over the last 60 years,” said Bernardo.

He said there’s no doubt the percentage of failing to appear will skyrocket.

“We’re an industry that saw maybe two to three percent failure to appear rates. Now we’re estimating 30 to 40 percent failure to appear rate,” he said.

Bernardo said that while the legislature did not appear open to their arguments when pushing the new laws through back in April, he says he’s hopeful change will come at least in terms of giving judges more discretion.

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