Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
The abrupt decrease in monetary bonds has left the men and women working within the industry searching for new careers.
According to the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance, which oversees the state’s bondsmen, 48 business entity licenses were issued to bailbondsmen between 1992 and 2017. By June 30, 2017, only 23 still held active licenses.
In late August, there were just 10.
Gerald Madrid, the former president of the now-disbanded Bail Bond Association of New Mexico, said he had to lay off his 10 employees, and he’s operating at a loss. He’s constantly fielding calls from people confused about the changes. Some wonder why they can’t bail out a relative immediately, others ask why an offender was released so quickly.
“I don’t have anybody ever come up and say, ‘Wow, things are great now, I’m really glad we switched,’ ” he said.
Madrid used to reach family members of an arrestee who would “obligate themselves to me and I obligate myself to the court to ensure court appearance.”
Madrid says that cutting back on surety bonds means the courts and taxpayers are taking on that responsibility.
“The government has decided that they’re going to take us out of the loop and they’re gonna go this alone,” he said.
He takes issue with the assertion that the poor were sitting in jail only because they didn’t have access to money. Sometimes, he said, families made the decision not to bail out a loved one because they had grown tired of their bad behavior.
“People are in jail because they committed a crime, not because they’re poor,” Madrid said. “This idea that the bondsmen are leaving the poor people in jail, again, it sounds really good for their side. That’s not the case at all. If mom and dad and grandma and grandpa won’t even bond him out, how can we bond him out? Frankly, they say they’re tired of these guys.”
Madrid, who has been in business for nearly 35 years, has no plans to close up shop any time soon and, for now, he posts what few surety bonds he can, on average one per day. Former clients visit occasionally, surprised that judges have agreed to release them without a bond.
“They come into my office laughing. I say, ‘What’s so funny?’ He said, ‘I just got released (on my own recognizance) again,’ ” Madrid said.