Sunday, April 12, 2015


By Juan Montoya
On February 26, a 24-year-old man man was arrested and charged with intoxicated vehicular manslaughter.
His bond was set at $10,000 by Judge Benjamin Euresti.
That same day, a Pre-Trial Release Program employee interviewed the man and arranged for his release at the cut-rate 3 percent and his cousin paid $102 to set him free to await trial.
In fact, a review of the 640 bonds issued by the PTRP for 2014 up to February 2105 show that the program has been used by defendants charged with violent crimes including Family Violence Assaults, injury to  a child, kidnapping, child abandonment, sexual abuse of children, endangering a child, and even assaults on public servants.
The PTRP was initiated in Cameron County by Judge Arturo Nelson to address prison overcrowding, legally mandated prosecution within certain time limits, and to save the county the money it would take to house prisoners in other counties. It also frees up space to house federal prisoners and allow for the county to earn money for its budget.
Local bail bond companies have long complained that what started out as a good idea has ended up pitting them in unfair competition with the reduced rates offered by the program. They complain that the access given to the PTRP interviewers deprives them of customers who may want to use their services. Commercial bonds usually hover at about 10 percent of the amount plus tax and other charges.
When a bond company issues one, they are guaranteeing that the defendant will appear at trial. If they do not, the companies are on the hook for the entire amount. The PTRP, on the other hand, relies on the defendant getting arrested by some law enforcement entity and hope that a coputer search will show that a warrant for Failure to Appear shows up. Bail bondsmen, on the other hand, must hire bounty hunters to track defendants who abscond on a bond. The Cameron County DA's Office implemented a tough collection effort for bonds companies and attorneys whose clients did not appear for trial.
If a company is lagging behind on its payments, a bail bond board can refuse its bonds and put it out of business.
But, while the PTR program was implemented to assist low-income defendants, the nature of some of these charges and the speed in which the program issued the low bonds has stirred up massive discontent among some local bail bondsmen and the public at large. In some cases, the defendants were employed by large corporations and they question their eligibility for the reduced bonds.
*On  January 17, 2014, a 26-year-old woman was charged with two counts of sexual assault of a child and a judge set a $20,000 bond on her. Her spouse paid $600 the same day  and she was released pending trial.
*On February 13, 2014 a 59-year-old woman was arrested and charged with endangering a child. She paid the $107 on a $3,000 bond and was free the same day.
 *On April 15, 2014, a 51-year-old Brownsville Independent School District maintenance department employee was arrested and charged with two counts of indecency with a child through sexual contact. A judge set his bond at $40,000 and he paid $1,202 the same day to regain his freedom.
On June 12, 2014, a 19-year-old man was arrested and charged with kidnapping. His sister paid the $102 on a $10,000 bond and he was released that same day.
*On January 7, 2015, for example, a 39-year old was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child and given a $30,000 bond. His mother paid the PTRP $909 and he was set free the same day.
*On February 13, 2014 a 59-year-old woman was arrested and charged with endangering a child. She paid the $107 on a $3,000 bond and was free the same day.
*On January 20, 2015 a 17-year-old man was arrested and charged with two counts of assault on a  a public servant and two counts of making terroristic threats and one count of resisting arrest by the Brownsville Police Dept. A judge set two $10,000 bonds for the assault, $1,000 each on the threat counts and a $1,000 bond on the resisting transportation count. His mother paid $302 each on both assault the assault charges, $22 each on the terroristic threats, and $22 on the resisting arrest charge to have him released the following day.
These are but a few of the cases where the PTRP has issued the bonds. It's unclear whether they make up some of the 32 cases where defendants failed to appear for court and forfeited about $200,000 in the bonds set by judges. But who do the courts collect from, the county?
Bondsmen say the way the program is run constitutes unfair competition subsidized by the taxpayer and are calling for a review of its application. Will there be one?


Anonymous said...

This is so ridiculous and upsetting. Individuals charged with crimes against children should not be allowed these PTR privileges!

Bastiat said...

You have to be a devout Statist to side with the bail bondsmen and think all citizens should be taxed to pay to jail this motley group.

Anonymous said... was okay when Neece lowered your charges and issued you PR bonds??? But not now; right?

Anonymous said...

Arresting a DWI is blatantly unconstitutional because the law is charging someone for having a state of mind. Since when is a state of mind a crime? If the driver violates a law, then they can be charged with a crime.

Can you arrest someone for having a hangover or being old? Both of these state's of mind are scientifically proven to demnish one's ability to drive an automobile.

Teresa said...

No person charged with a violent crime should be allowed to use this PTR program. Typical abuse and misuse of programs that are meant to help low-income non violent offenders. Who do we complain to via a letter? This is completely wrong.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you would write a smart-ass comment like that if you had a family member killed by a drunk driver ....who didn't get arrested because it "was a state of mind"

Anonymous said...

At 2.29

There were 112 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year. Of these, 1.4 million were arrested, around 1%. Of fatal accidents, 31% involved alcohol impairment, 10,322 people.

Over 40,000 people a year die from drug overdose. You are four times more likely to die from a drug overdose than from a drunk driver. Yet, we do next to nothing to prevent the sale and distribution of drugs, not to the mention the illegal drugs prescribed by pill mills. Just a little perspective and how the world works.

Drug overdose deaths more than doubled from 1999 to 2012, according to a new CDC National Center for Health Statistics’s report.

Anonymous said...

If your stats are correct , they certainly are an eye-opener . ...still; I would rather they take drunk drivers off the road every chance they can....I don't do drugs,never have,and , don't think I could die from an overdose .

Anonymous said...

Here is the link for the statistics:

It is a question of resources, where do you want to place them? Everyone knows who the drug dealers are and where they live, yet, the authorities do nothing. Every large city in the US has wholesale drug distribution points and they are never shut down. Ask yourself whay there is never a large dealer in the US taken down? Why are the banks to launder money like crazy?

Anonymous said...

Statistics for drug overdose: