JONESBORO — Craighead County’s two District Court judges are putting their foot down on defendants not placing 10 percent down on their bail bonds to bonding companies to get released from custody.
Previously, those charged with crimes were allowed to negotiate with the companies as to how much they had to pay upfront. At one time it was usual for them to put up the 10 percent of the bond to the companies.
“For us, what we have seen is that people weren’t paying the 10%,” Judge Tommy Fowler said Tuesday.
He said he was seeing people in court who were out on two or three bonds.
“One of the reasons for bonds is living a crime-free life,” Fowler said.
So he and Judge David Boling decided to crack down, forcing those charged to put down the whole 10 percent. He said some bond companies weren’t requiring that.
Fowler and Boling usually set a bond of $150,000 for charges of simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms by suspects, with the bond increasing for more charges. Some suspects have bonded out the same day as they were charged when they had bonds of $200,000.
Fowler said the Craighead County Sheriff’s Office will require bonding companies to sign a statement that the defendants are paying to 10 percent cost.
Poinsett County Sheriff Kevin Molder, a member of the Arkansas Professional Bail Bondsman Licensing Board, said each bond company is different when it comes to how much inmates have to pay toward their bond, but judges can certainly require paying 10 percent.
“When they bond out, they (the companies) say they collected that amount,” Molder said.
For Craighead County, Chief Deputy Justin Rolland said, “What we would do, there would probably be a form that the bonding company would swear that they collected the 10 percent. If the judges require the 10 percent, then the bondsman would have to do it.
“We’ll have to set up a process to ensure 10 percent is collected.”
Mallory Gulley, of Gulley Bail Bonds, said that in 25 years of business her firm has seen a lot of changes.
“People are bonding out for pennies on the dollar,” she said. “New companies are coming in and taking less. It’s so far off of the premium. We’ve always tried to get 10 percent.
“I can see why the judges are doing this. They (the defendants) tell the judge they need a public defender, and they get out on a $200,000 bond.”
Gulley said bond companies will have to figure out the new requirement with the courts and the sheriff’s office. She said the bond system is so far off she understands why the judges are doing it.
“It’s not our decision to make if a judge demands 10 percent be paid,” Gulley said.